Nine out of ten Americans believe students with "unpopular opinions" should be able to speak up without fear of retribution, according to a new survey.
The poll, conducted in late February and released Tuesday by The Fund for American Studies (TFAS), a conservative nonprofit, asked a sampling of Americans whether they believe "students with unpopular opinions should be able to express their thoughts without fear of punishment." Seventy-two percent "strongly supported" that statement, with another 18 percent "somewhat" supporting it. Only three percent and five percent were strongly and somewhat opposed respectively.
The poll, which surveyed 803 adults with a 3.5 percent margin of error, was taken weeks after the University of California, Berkeley erupted in violence over an anti-liberal speaker's planned lecture, resulting in a campus-wide lockdown and criticism from President Trump.
Political tensions on college campuses have escalated dramatically in recent years. The TFAS survey is a strong confirmation that the rest of the country is looking to academia with disapproval over its treatment of ideological minorities.
Though intimidating conservative students into silence is mainstream on college campuses, most people in this country want leaders in higher education to make the institutional reforms necessary to correct that practice.
Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., asked education secretary Betsy DeVos to take the necessary steps to protect free speech on taxpayer-funded campuses in a letter sent last Friday. Given these results, it would be wise of DeVos to follow through.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.