Politics & Polls #59: Is Free Speech Alive and Well on College Campuses?

Sep 20 2017
By Staff
Topics Politics
Source Woodrow Wilson School

Is free speech under threat at colleges across America? Some argue campus environments are no longer conducive to open dialogue. Others say debates on campus are alive and well.

A recent nationwide survey of younger voters shows their commitment to free speech is reduced. Of 1,500 undergraduate students across U.S. universities, a fifth of them responded that it’s acceptable to use physical force to silence a speaker who makes “offensive and hurtful comments.”

In this episode, Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang discuss the survey with Catherine Rampell, who wrote about it in a recent opinion piece in The Washington Post. 

Rampell frequently covers economics, public policy, politics and culture, with a special emphasis on data-driven journalism. Before joining The Post, Rampell wrote about economics and theater for The New York Times. She has received the Weidenbaum Center Award for Evidence-Based Journalism and is a Gerald Loeb Award finalist. She grew up in South Florida (the New York part) and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University in 2007.


Zelizer is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 
Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He has been one of the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the author of several books including, most recently, "The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society." Zelizer is a frequent commentator in the international and national media on political history and contemporary politics. He has published more than 600 hundred op-eds, including his weekly column on CNN.com.

Wang is professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at Princeton University. He is known for his books "Welcome to Your Brain" and "Welcome to Your Child's Brain" and for his founding role at the Princeton Election Consortium, a blog providing U.S. election analyses. In 2004, Wang was one of the first to aggregate U.S. presidential polls using probabilistic methods. He has also developed new statistical standards for partisan gerrymandering. A neuroscientist, Wang's academic research focuses on the neuroscience of learning, the cerebellum.