First Amendment vitals: Taking Gen Z’s pulse on free expression and inclusion
On May 13, 2019, Knight Foundation released the report, “Free Expression on College Campuses.” See the full report here.
College campuses have recently undergone a pivotal generational shift. Millennials have left the nest of higher education and entered the workforce. Undergraduates on campus now hail from the tip of the next age cohort known as Generation Z. They are the true digital natives born into an always-on world. The very oldest was four on 9/11, seven when Facebook launched, 10 when the iPhone came on the scene and 19 — freshly eligible to vote — in the 2016 election.
To better understand this generation’s emerging views on issues of freedom of expression and diversity inclusion, Knight commissioned mobile-first polling platform College Pulse to undertake a national study of more than 4,000 of these full-time, four-year degree seeking students. This research joins our longstanding efforts to study and understand the future of the First Amendment, and builds on previous college student surveys in collaboration with Gallup released in 2016 and 2018 respectively.
Originally developed by college students, College Pulse leverages Gen Z’s omnipresent smartphone by fielding surveys via a confidential mobile app rather than traditional telephone interviews. This digital survey and analytics platform provided an opportunity to meet young people where they are, includes novel incentives through “gamification,” and may also elicit more honest answers by removing the pressure to give more socially acceptable responses in the presence of an interviewer.
Here are some of Knight’s key takeaways:
A majority of students do not support free speech restrictions, but 41 percent draw the line at hate speech:
College Pulse asked college students if hate speech — defined as speech that “attacks people based on their race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation,” — should continue to be protected under the First Amendment as repeatedly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly six in 10 (58 percent) of students said that hate speech ought to be protected while 41 percent disagree.