tv Washington Journal Nathan Harden CSPAN October 2, 2021 11:05am-11:54am EDT
network. or you can watch the full coverage on c-span now, our new video at. head on over to c-span.org for scheduling information or to stream video live or on-demand anytime. c-span, your unspent -- unfiltered view of government. >> c-span on the go. watch the day's biggest political events lives -- live or on-demand. anytime. c-span now, axis top highlights. listen to c-span radio and discover new podcast, over free. download c-span now, today. >> washington journal continues. we are back with nathan harden, >> who is the education editor and project coordinator with real clear education and he is here to discuss their publications recent 2021 college free-speech ranking. nathan, good morning.
guest: wonderful to be on the program. thank you. host: as we start this discussion, in terms of this report, define what free-speech means. guest: i think, when we are talking about the college campus, the goal of free speech is to provide the widest possible form for the free exchange -- forum for the free exchange of ideas. this is a place where people can disagree safely and civilly and people can be exposed to ideas that may be they have not grown up with ore, that they did not share. that is what the real mission i think of a university is. when we talk about free speech, specifically in the university context, it is all about viewpoint diversity, and a lack of censorship and a healthy place for debate.
host: in terms of free speech, when we are talking about colleges, we are not talking about save whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want, that is not what we are talking about when we talk about free speech on college campuses, right? guest: well, you know, there is always the deal, the shouting fire in a crowded theater metaphor, the fact that there are certain, rare limits on free speech that are not protected under the first amendment. but when we talk about public universities, they are actually obligated to be governed by the first amendment, which does allow people to say things that are offensive. the job of the university then is to obviously, if there is a real threat of physical danger in place, then yes, that would not be qualified under free-speech. that is the
example of shouting fire in a crowded theater and causing a stampede. i think this is part of the debate that we have. it is the goal of the university to allow even offensive speakers or speakers that some would consider offensive to be on campus and to allow those ideas to be countered by other ideas. or, is it the job of the university to shelter students from ideas that might make them uncomfortable? unfortunately, a lot of universities are taking that line of attack and we are seeing that more and more students just aren't getting exposed to ideas that they disagree with, at all. so, how many years have you all done this study? is this the first year, second year, 10th year? guest: we are very excited this
year. real clear education has done the survey two years in a row. this is the largest survey of students on the topic of free speech that has ever been conducted, over 37,000 students across the country, and over 150 colleges and universities. it tripled the size of the number of colleges and universities we covered last year. they are not all in there but the chances are good that your favorite school will be included this year. or, if you are a student and you're looking to apply to colleges this fall, this is another great resource. there are three or four companies that put out these college rankings every year, that usually have to do with how elite the institution or how exclusive and that sort of thing. but, we have never had
this sort of resource to put data behind the free-speech climate on campus. and, i think what is important to point out is this is data driven. this is actually what students themselves are telling us. this is not a subjective analysis of what we think from the outside, looking in. this is actually students telling us how they feel about things like having difficult conversations on issues such as abortions or affirmative action. how comfortable are they, welcoming a controversial liberal or controversial conservative speaker on campus? we ask them how often do they feel their college administrators support free-speech? there is an examination of the handbooks and the speech policies that went into this. all of those data points were put together, into a numerical score. that serves as
the basis of the rankings. but we found is there are considerable differences from one school to another, when it comes to how free students feel to express themselves on campuses. host: before we get into the top lines on the report, let's talk about which schools are included. is this only a survey of public schools? is it public-private? is a four year only or community colleges and graduate schools? who is included in the report? guest: it is a broad cross-section. we were able to branch out because we were doing so many more schools this year and to get a lot more schools across the country. there are some of the elite egg names, harvard and yale, that you might imagine. -- delete big names, harvard and yale, that you might imagine. there are small liberal arts colleges, that we were able to include this year. we are
getting a much bigger picture of what this issue -- how it comes down in different institutions and different regions of the country. one of the interesting things that came out of that was we find that some of the more elite institutions, students are telling us they feel less free to express themselves there. so, maybe sometimes, the best speech climate is not necessarily the elite institution. it might be your local state or university. host: let's go through some of the top findings and i want you to go through each one of them. more than 80 percent of students report censoring of their viewpoints, at least some of the time. 40% say they were
comfortable publicly disagreeing with a professor. 66% said they thought it was acceptable to shout down a speaker to prevent them from speaking on campus. 23% said they thought it was acceptable to use violence to stop a campus speech. i want to go through each one of these. we are saying eight out of 10 college students are saying they feel like they are being censored on college campuses. who do they think is censoring them? is a professor's, is it the administration, is it other students? is it peer pressure or all of the above? guest: it is a mixture but the peer pressure element i think is the number one factor. we are living in a time where social media has become a war zone for people. we hear about people who lost jobs for something
offensive they set online. there has been a growing climate of fear that if i say something offensive, if i mess up one time, there might be a record of it online for the rest of my life. and so, i think it is important that people understand, when we talk about a free-speech crisis on campus, we are not just talking about professors who won't let their students speak or something like that. in fact, that is very rare. more often, what we are talking about is the issue of self-censorship. this is an internal kind of free-speech problem. right? because this is an issue where students are saying i'm afraid that if i have a political opinion that is not popular on campus, i will be socially ostracized. or, i'm afraid my professor will give me a bad grade. 80% of students are
telling us they are censoring themselves at some point on campus, or online. the other stat you mentioned is that 40% of students are telling us, you know, that they are ok disagreeing with a professor. that leaves about 60% who are not. that stat is worse than last year. one of the things we saw over this past year is a lot of schools were removing students -- removing students online -- were moving students online because of the pandemic. that is a new element of this. we think the ability of students to express themselves through worse in the online environment, possibly because a lot of these classes were recorded. there was a sense that maybe the logistics of communications were a little harder in that virtual space.
whatever the factor is, and we had a very polarizing year, politically, last year, with the election. with a lot of racial upheaval in the country. a lot of these hot button issues were floating around in the air. i think students feel less willing to speak up and risk the ostracization of their classmates, or professor host: we want to give our viewers a chance to tell us what they think about this topic. i want you to know that we are going to open up our lines right now. we will open up special lines. i want to hear from college students and parents. are you worried about free-speech on your campus, or on the campus you are sending your child to? college students and parents, your line is going to be (202) 748-8000. our second
line will be for college educators. whether you are an administrator or -- we want to know what you think. do you think students on campus are afraid to speak their minds? college educators, your number will be (202) 748-8001. if you don't fit in either one of those categories but you want to say something on the topic of free speech on college campuses, your number is going to be (202) 748-8003. --(202) 748-8002. college students and parents, (202) 748-8000. college educators, (202) 748-8001. everyone else, (202) 748-8002. you can text us at (202) 748-8003. nathan, we were just talking about this and i want to get a little bit more into it.
how did the pandemic effect free-speech on campus? like you said earlier, a lot of these classes moved online with zoom and webex and other video platforms. but, a lot of them were also recorded. did that make people afraid to say what was on their mind? or was it just being in a virtual environment that made people a little bit quieter? guest: i think it is a little bit of both. i think overall, the environment is more difficult. we have all probably had the experience of trying to, you know, get involved in some sort of political debate on facebook with a friend or family member. you know, the online space has a way of increasing our polarization. it is just not a very easy way to have difficult conversations to begin with. people are willing to say things online that they would never say to your face read we
have all had this kind of experience. i think as the classroom space went online and as students socialize -- social lives are lived out online, we are seeing greater polarization. we are seeing less practice and willingness to engage with people who might have very different political beliefs. when i think is healthy is we can come to someone with a different point of view, maybe a view that we find offensive, with a sense of curiosity. why do you believe what you believe and really try to understand where that person is coming from. and if that person has an idea that we think is terrible, offensive or immoral, the best anecdote for a bad idea or bad speech is more speech, not less. we should have a form -- forum, where we can express our disagreement in a calm and civilized manner. that is the opposite of what we have online.
you pointed out that stat that two thirds of students now feel it is ok to use -- shout down a speaker on campus. so, there is a real intolerance that we see among some young people for ideas they disagree with. host: ok. now, with -- what is it that the students are worried about with their comments being recorded? are they worried about these comments coming back to hurt them immediately in college, or are they worried about this coming back and hurting their job prospects in the future? which one are they thinking about when they talk about that? guest: i think it is both. we have seen stories in the news about both of these things happening. it seems like every other week, there is a big controversy about someone lost their job because they said
something racist or they said something offensive online. and in other cases, it might just be a political opinion. it might not be something necessarily, you know, a warrant that -- abhorrent that this person believes. it might be they hold a political opinion that is not popular where they work or among their friend group. that is a big problem, when it comes to how that impacts our society as a whole. we all feel that our political climate is very divided these days. and certainly, the way that our politics is lived out online is a huge part of that. students are right in the middle of that. i want to mention one more statistic from this survey. 37,000 students. almost one in four of them said it is
acceptable to use violence in some occasions to stop campus speech. that is an increase of 5% over last year's survey. in some of the more elite colleges, that number is as high as one in three. this very tense political climate that we saw in 2020 seems to have heightened both the sensitivity and self-censorship of students but it seems to have increased a level of intolerance for other viewpoints and an unwillingness to hear out the people who, you know, you disagree with. that is not healthy for our society. we think colleges and universities can play a role in counteracting that by providing a forum for open debate. some of the best colleges for this issue, like claremont mckinnon, the university of chicago, the schools are taking a proactive approach to encourage students
to listen to one another and provide a strong forum for open debate and viewpoint diversit host: lets let some of our viewers take part in the conversation. we will start with john, who is calling from vermont. john is a college educated. good morning. caller: how are you? host: i'm fine. go ahead, john. caller: so, it's a good question. i would say in response to the earlier caller, it is true that colleges and universities are the place where people need to learn to listen. i'm a professor at middlebury college and we have a project called the engaged learning project. in part, in reaction to some protests we had in earlier years. engaged listening, or if you prefer, deep listening, is a skill that young people and all
people need to hone their entire life. and we are having success in the early years of this project, of getting students to slow down and find a forum in which people can listen to each other, not just outside of the classroom, but in side of the classroom -- inside of the classroom. wilkerson gave a brilliant commencement talk in the spring of 2018. she talked about the need for radical empathy, not just putting yourself in somebody's shoes, but really trying to hear where they are coming from. not from your point of view, but from there's. if you google radical empathy, you will find that speech. i have brought this to the floor since then. i think it is a promising way to go. too many in the public sphere fan the flames of discourse at universities and colleges and
generalize about what is going on. that stuff needs to be cast aside. there is work to do. i would encourage your listeners to think about the power of engaged listening, deep listening, and the implication they are in, which is to think about the importance of radical empathy. host: john, before i turn it over to nathan, according to their survey, you guys might have a little bit of work to do. they have you ranked at number 140 on their list and read in their speech code. -- red in their speech code. caller: i don't know what red means. all i can tell you is what i see. and i see students now from a whole range of backgrounds, engaged with each other. listening to each other.
conflict happens and that is how we learn. so, i invite anybody who lists us at 140 on some list to come up and take a look because there are some good things happening here. in my mind, i have been an educator for almost 25 years. the missing skill, and i am paraphrasing phil drayton, we need to teach empathy. wilkerson takes us a step further, radical empathy. that from there, is where i sit these days. host: let's let nathan respond. go ahead and jump in. guest: i want to think john -- thank john for the call. i love the word empathy. that is the heart of what healthy speech climate cultivates for students. wherever a university may fall in the rankings, we need more people like john, who are leaders in these institutions,
to take a proactive role in nurturing that. i think we need to understand, our culture is going in a different direction. students are coming into the schools -- these schools with a tendency to self censor, that has been cultivated by a life lived largely on social media. it is a countercultural mission that colleges and universities have to play in this day and time. it is so critical that university leaders and professors take that active role to tell students we are going to stop and listen to one another. we are going to listen to speech that mixes uncomfortable and we will have a dialogue and a debate. claremont mckinnon, which comes in at number one, they had a controversial speaker on the campus in a high-profile case, a protest on campus.
someone wanted to shut down the speech. the leadership of the school came out and said we hear you, we understand that you don't like what this person is saying. but, at this school, we are going to open the door to these conversations, these difficult conversations. we will hear both sides of this and we will come away with a better understanding of one another, even if we don't change our minds. even if we don't agree with one another, we are going to have, i think, john said it best, we are going to have some empathy at the end of the day. that is nothing but healthy for our society. host: since we are talking about middlebury college and claremont mckinnon college, let's look at the top ranked schools in your survey. claremont mckinnon college is the top ranked school when it comes to freedom of speech. they are followed by the university of chicago, the university of new hampshire, in re university and florida state
-- emory university and florida state university. what made claremont mckenna the top ranked school in the entire nation? guest: what students are telling us. there are a few other factors that go in the rankings. i encourage people to go to real clear education.com. you can see the data points we used to arrive to the rankings. going down to the university of chicago, they have been famous for their proactive defense of free speech. there is something called the chicago statement, that a number of other universities, many of the universities have signed, which is a declaration of the value and worth of an open forum on campus. those are the leaders that i think other institutions onto be seeking to emulate. i
think it is great to point out that there are a couple of public diversities in the -- universities in the top. the majority, if you look at the top 25, the majority of those were public institutions. so, that's great for them. they don't in our rankings this year the majority were public institutions. you know, that is great for them. they don't always score at the top of the report but they are doing better on average in our rankings in this category. host: let's talk to ronald calling from jericho, new york. good morning. caller: good morning. by the way, regarding middle barry college, the incident -- middlebury college, the incident with charles murray, he was not permitted to speak their and became violent. that was a disgrace.
i want to mention that one idea that i have that i think would help the situation greatly would be if kids wanted to be admitted to prestigious colleges, which are some of the least open to free speech, but in general if they wanted to be admitted to a college or university, they should be required to sign an agreement prior to admission that if they were to do anything to prevent freedom of speech, whether it would be shouting down a speaker or violent action, that they would simply be expelled. host: wouldn't that be blocking
free speech for those students on campus? what do you think about that, nathan? guest: well, i don't know if expelling would be feasible, but i think with the caller is getting at is that maybe giving students that message early on -- and this is a place university of chicago does practically -- is inform students, hey, these are the values of free speech we stand for, this is what you are signing up for if you come here. i think that could be healthy. coming out and being really proactive on that front. colleges are very expensive these days. you could spend upwards of $200,000 for a typical private four year education. the idea you could go to that place and spend that kind of money and sit in class day after
day and be afraid to even speak your mind just seems preposterous, right? i have five children and by the way, if you are watching, hello. i wouldn't want to send my kids to a place where they felt they could not speak up. now, some of that is just, you know, part of the culture as i said. we live in a time where students are typically more afraid than in times past to speak their mind. but i want to emphasize the positive side of these rankings is we are seeing colleges make a huge difference. there is considerable differences in how students feel from one campus to another. if you go to the website, you will see the rankings on the schools that are doing a good job. host: we talked about the schools that are best when it
comes to freedom of speech. let's talk about the schools your list has as the worst. coming in as the worst, i believe for the second year in a row, is depaul university followed by marquette, louisiana state, boston college and rensselaer polytech institute in upstate new york. what are these schools doing wrong? guest: in some cases it starts with the written speech policies. if you look at the rankings, there is a color-coded message beside each school. the green is for those that have, according to the foundation for individual rights in education, they have a written speech policy that protects first amendment rights. in other cases schools might have yellow or red which means they have policies that are seen as problematic or explicitly
restricting free speech. sometimes that is the case here, but in general, this is what students are telling us. why does one school have a relatively good speech climate and one five miles away can be doing completely different? i think it comes down to the administration personally. i think when the senior administrators, when the college president, the dean, the professors are all committed to free speech and they communicate not just we have free speech but tell students why it is important -- they do like john did and explain why empathy matters and how that is healthy and how it is ok to hear speech that may make you uncomfortable and even offended at times, you don't have to agree with that,
you can answer with your own point of view. when that is cultivated, when that is proactively encouraged students really pick up on that and tell us they know the university is going to have their back on a free speech issue. even at the best schools on our rankings it is not perfect. some students still do not feel free to express themselves. we are grading on the curve. these schools at the bottom, there is not a commitment at the highest levels or if there is it is not communicated. everybody says they are for free speech. right, left, center, we are all for free speech. but when it comes to the tax bracket and you have an offensive speaker on campus or in a comfortable situation, that is where the rubber meets the road. that is where some schools are doing a much better job than
others of defending speech on campus. host: i want to point out quickly, we talked earlier that 17 of the top 25 schools on this list were public colleges and universities. well, 20 of the bottom 25 are private institutions. let's talk to margie calling from new mexico. margie is the parent of a college student. go ahead. caller: i agree with nathan and the other callers about not being able to speak. i have a niece that spoke up about the illegal aliens and she was practically bullied all day long at the college campus at new mexico state university. but i think it has to do from the top. i think it is the deans
that have brought this down. if you see the way it is going, you see it in politicians in washington, democrats agreeing with republicans and independents because they speak this, they speak this, they say this, they say that. i agree that even in everyday you see that. believe in free speech, yes, but when it comes to the nitty-gritty they don't and they want to quiet you, censor you. i have very outspoken people at nmsu. host: we want to point out new mexico state university ranks just outside the top 30 at 31 on the list of best schools for free speech.
go ahead and respond. guest: the caller makes a good point in talking about the administration. i will highlight one statistics. only 32% of students told us they agree there college administration makes policies about free speech clear to the student body. that number should be much higher. you know, colleges put a lot of energy sometimes into diversity. we have deans of racial or socioeconomic or ethnic diversity. this is an idea i have had. what if we had a dean of viewpoint diversity who could come and encourage a climate of open exchange? wouldn't that be a difference maker? the big point being however you do it students need to be
communicated to on this issue. they need to be told that is important and why it is important. and if colleges do that, students are picking up on it. the alternative, which i think is the case in many places, if you have an administration that privately supports fundamentally the concept of free speech but they might be afraid in the cultural climate -- what if i allow a controversial speaker on campus and create a public relations disaster? sometimes it just feels easier in this climate to not have that conversation take place. but that is the easy way out and it doesn't counteract the kind of toxic force in our culture pushing us apart.
we see this problem that exists on college campuses is not going to stay. it is bleeding over into the business world, our public forum, politics, and universities have such a unique opportunity at a critical point in young people's lives to open them up in this category of empathy to help get them practiced at engaging in difficult conversations with stability. it is about the opportunity presented. i hope some of the schools that come lower on the rankings, they can see this as an encouragement. hey, here are steps we can take to improve things and maybe next year we will see them up higher on the survey. host: speaking of the schools, have you gotten any reaction from any of the schools that scored high or low on the list? guest: we always get a few
emails here and there usually from the public affairs office asking about this or that. yes. i will not name it but one school that got a warning emblem on the ranking they wrote and asked, why is that? we usually try to be transparent with the methodology and, in fact, it is all online. you can see the full explanation of the data in a long report. it is all there to see how we came upon it. obviously, some of the schools that come in at the top are very happy. one more feather to put in their cap and we love that. if you are doing well in these rankings, that is an accomplishment as a college or university that you should be proud of. there are alumni that are
interested in what is going on at their school. this is a great way to bring accountability to the process. we hear stories on the news, anecdotes about a protest here or speaker cancel here, but we don't have solid numbers until now to really understand how bad is this problem and where? it is not just a uniform problem. some schools are doing quite better than others in this area. we wanted to bring that information to empower students and parents and colleges themselves to take steps toward a healthier and more vital campus experience. host: billy calling from brooklyn, new york and billy is a college educator. good morning. caller: yes, so the real threat to free speech on campus is not
students protesting for charles murray which, by the way, teaches black people are inferior to whites and less intelligent. or some person talking about illegal aliens. the real threat to free speech on campus is the right wing lawmakers making restrictive bills about teaching history. as of september 2021 bills have been introduced in many states that have basically outlawed the teaching of divisive concepts including racism, how it impacts intergenerationally. these rankings are inscrutable and if students do not want to have a racist speaker on campus,
it is up to the student body if they want to protest. i would also like to bring up the desantis' words to make educators make a disclosure of their own ideological views. if you want more conservatives in terms of intellectual diversity, maybe pay assistant professors better. they are only making $50,000, $60,000 if you are tenured. if you are not, you make less than that. it is all about making money. pay them more if you want more conservatives. host: go ahead and respond, nathan. guest: i want to thank the caller. i agree on one point and disagree on another. i agree on the point he is making that free speech is not
just a right or left issue. you know, free speech on campus has tended to be something the conservatives have been more interested in because they tend to be the minority on campus. most schools in terms of faculty and student body, if you look at the polls, they lean left. naturally conservatives are going to be the ones more concerned about free speech in that climate because they are in the minority. but, we are seeing more and more -- and he mentioned some of these bills going out across the country -- that are trying to ban teaching in the classroom. many of these bills are problematic. so those who are doing the censorship or suppression of academic freedom are not just on the list they are on the rise and they are equally a problem.
but where i want to disagree is to say that it is only a right wing problem which seems to be what i was hearing from him, or more so. it is not easy to divide this so simply on partisan lines. i want to give you an example. the university of chicago which scored number two, in terms of how students identify politically, it is one of the most liberal schools in our survey. yet, conservative students there , relatively speaking, feel comfortable expressing themselves. even though conservatives at university of chicago are very much in the minority the campus has made an environment where they feel they are going to be hurt overall, not perfect, not every student all the time, but overall they are doing something right.
whether the school has a lot of conservatives, has a lot of liberals, it comes down to what is the environment that the senior administration is standing up for and telling students, this is what is important this school? and we all need to support the free expression regardless of political views. if you do not support free speech for your political opponent, well, you do not support free speech. host: neil calling from saginaw, michigan. good morning. caller: thank you. the last caller had a lot to say. most of my points as far as i was going to make that being a right wing issue. but i would like to say i think that just because you have free speech does not mean you have to announce your views at every
corner because it may be uninformed. i don't think this person would want to promote actual lies, like the previous caller said. bell curve guy, first person who believes there are chips in the covid vaccine. i do not think that stuff should be promoted or encouraged on campus. or anywhere really. and i don't believe just because you have the freedom of speech other people have the freedom of association. i don't believe ostracism, as the guest said earlier, i think it is criticism. host: go ahead and respond before we run out of time, nathan. guest: well, i think often what happens when we shut down a conversation, when we censor someone, it doesn't really work. it typically backfires. we take a point of view and say,
you have no platform, we are going to silence you. they will just go somewhere else, especially now that there's all kinds of pockets online where people can find one another. it just feeds more and more extremism. whereas if we are able to have healthy disagreements and conversations and not feel threatened by in a poising poem point of view, we are going to have a better chance of changing someone's mind. isn't that what you should want at the end of the day if there is someone you disagree with on an issue you're passionate about? wouldn't you want to have an opportunity to have a conversation that can make them see your point of view and perhaps change their views for the better? host: we would like to thank nathan harden, education editor and project coordinator at realclear here to talk to us about his organization's 2021
college free speech ranking. nathan, thank you so much. guest: great to be here. host: coming up, it is our open forum where you can talk about the most important political topic going on to you. you see the numbers on screen. get your calls ready to go. we will be right back. ♪ ♪ announcer: we bring you the best in american history and nonfiction books on american history tv. on lectures in history, former mayor just of riley and professor carrie taylor look at why a new african american history museum are being built in charleston. this will be at the citadel military college. and on the presidency, christopher lahey on his book
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