Campus Reform | SURVEY: 63 percent of students at this school say gov't should punish 'hate speech'

SURVEY: 63 percent of students at this school say gov't should punish 'hate speech'

A new survey found that “students do not understand what constitutes protected speech or activity under the First Amendment.”

According to the survey, 63 percent of students believe hate speech should be punished by the government.

Nearly 70 percent of students opposed the idea of being forced to pay for speech with which you disagree.

A new survey on students’ First Amendment views found that “students do not understand what constitutes protected speech or activity under the First Amendment.” According to the survey, 63 percent of students believe hate speech should be punished by the government. 

In a follow-up question, 45 percent agreed that a person should be able to prevent another person from speaking if they believe that person’s speech is “hateful.” Females were more in favor of these restrictions than males. 

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Georgia state rep pushes campus free speech bill. Guess who opposes it.]

Students were also asked about compelled speech, also known as being forced to pay for speech you disagree with. Nearly 70 percent of students opposed the idea of a mandatory fee, such as mandatory student fees charged by many universities that fund student organizations, regardless of viewpoint. The Supreme Court concluded two decades ago that “the First Amendment does not preclude a public university from charging its students an activity fee that is used to support student organizations that engage in extracurricular speech, provided that the money is allocated to those groups by use of viewpoint-neutral criteria." 

Many of these students also supported government restrictions on the media. 

Students were not provided a definition of “bias” or what it meant for the government to “take action.” Nonetheless, 35 percent agreed that the government should “take action” against “biased” media. 

“These results show that the student body is not fully aware of the importance of free speech and religious liberty in American law and society,” the survey stated. “What is more, the findings are at odds with UW Madison’s stated dedication to academic freedom and freedom of expression.”

[RELATED: Survey: Most students favor colleges restricting speech]

The survey claimed that “more needs to be done” and recommended that the university either require students to receive some instruction on the First Amendment, prove First Amendment competency, or require colleges to include First Amendment relevant topics in its courses.

“UW Madison must do more to instill in its students a deeper respect for and understanding of the First Amendment, its protections, and the importance of an unfettered marketplace of ideas,” the survey reads.

The Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership, in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Survey Center conducted the survey Oct. 20- Nov. 9, polled 530 undergraduate students at UW-Madison. 

UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone told Campus Reform in a statement, "at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we believe strongly in the rights to free speech and expression provided in the First Amendment." 

"University campuses are fertile ground for the free exchange of ideas, and UW-Madison has a legacy of promoting free and open expression. Over the years the university has welcomed a range of speakers from across the political spectrum. Each fall, we communicate to all students and registered student organizations about freedom of speech, including clearly outlining expectations for students if they choose to participate in protests or demonstrations. Among those expectations is that one cannot disrupt another person’s right to free speech," she added.

Campus asked students at the University of Florida recently whether they support a national "hate speech" law. Many students said they did support such an action, but were unable to define what constitutes "hate speech." 

Watch the full video above. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @JezzamineWolk