POLL: Nation Split on How Universities Should Address Racism

By Kenrya Rankin Jan 05, 2016

A new poll about racism on college campuses reveals that the nation is divided when it comes to schools’ responsibility to address issues.

The poll, from The Huffington Post/YouGov, comes after a fall full of stories of students fighting back against campus racism. It asked 1,000 American adults to share how they feel about diversity on campus, college officials’ responsibility to address and teach about racism, and what role free speech should play in these discussions. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the poll found that on many issues, Americans are divided among political party and racial lines. Key findings:

  • When asked about the importance of colleges and universities opening offices dedicated to promoting campus diversity, 32 percent thought it was important, while 42 percent of those surveyed thought it was “a waste of money and resources.” That percentage jumped to 51 percent for White respondents, and 70 percent for Republicans. A quarter of all respondents (26 percent) said they were not sure.
  • When asked if colleges should be responsible for teaching students about the issues surrounding racism and its attendant bias, 45 percent said yes and 41 percent said no. Drilling down, two-thirds of Democrats said that schools should do this, while an almost equal share (62 percent) of Republicans gave it the thumbs down.
  • When it comes to punishment, 53 percent overall said that students who “make racially offensive statements” should be punished, while 28 percent said they should not and 19 percent said they were unsure. Those numbers shifted a bit for Whites, with 48 percent saying punishment is in order, and 33 percent saying no.
  • And overall, 43 percent said that eliminating discrimination should be a priority, even if it means placing limits on speech. Meanwhile, 38 percent said that an absolute right to free speech trumps stamping out racism on campus. Among Black respondents, just 4 percent valued unfettered speech the most.

(H/t The Huffington Post)