July 21, 2023
Nearly three-quarters of all college students, regardless of their political affiliation, believe professors who make comments the students find offensive should be reported to the university, according to a new report.
A similar rate of students would also report their peers for making insulting or hurtful remarks.
The report by the Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth at North Dakota State University is based on a survey of 2,250 students from 131 public and private four-year institutions across the country and was released Wednesday.
Over all, the percentage of students who said they would report a professor was higher among self-identified liberal students (81 percent) than among self-identified conservative students (53 percent). Sixty-six percent of liberal students and 37 percent of conservative students said they would also report peers who made offensive comments.
John Bitzan, author of the report, said the survey findings are troubling and reflect continuing challenges on college campuses to encourage students to think critically and engage in healthy debates—with each other and with faculty members—over issues on which they disagree.
“Of any place, a university should be a place that is open to a variety of points of view, and traditionally the universities have been,” said Bitzan, who is also director of the institute and a professor of management. “To me, it’s alarming that students are saying, ‘You can’t have an opinion on something that differs from the correct or appropriate opinion without being reported to the university.’”