Think College Students Are Too ‘Woke’ Now? It Could Get Worse

AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File

Over the past decade, universities have been one of the most prominent battlefields for the dissemination of ideas and a centerpiece of the debate over free speech. When former President Donald Trump came onto the scene, the conversation on campuses became even more fiery, with left-leaning students, professors, and other members of staff constantly seeking to tamp down on conservative views. We saw them resort to shouting down right-leaning speakers giving speeches on campus. In several cases, progressive students even resorted to violence to silence those with whom they disagree.

Much of the impetus behind the growing movement to enforce leftist supremacy over political discourse on college campuses is Marxist wokeism, an authoritarian ideology that does not allow for dissenting viewpoints. The days of spirited debate and rational argumentation seem numbered, as progressives seek to silence debate on matters they have decided are verboten and not up for discussion.

The Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby reported on a poll showing that this new “generation of college students” is “deeply committed to the belief that if they are offended, someone ought to be punished.”

The survey showed that 74 percent of college students believe that a professor who says “something that students find offensive” should be reported to the university. Even further, 65 percent of respondents said a fellow student who utters an offensive remark should also be reported to the administration. Not surprising is the fact that 85 percent of those identifying as liberal agreed with both sentiments. But even among conservatives, 56 percent also concurred.

Another interesting study found that students still view free speech as essential, but have noted that it is not as secure on campus as it was previously. The Knight Foundation’s poll revealed that “students favor college policies that limit racist speech, but support for other speech interventions remains low.” The author wrote:

Most students favor colleges instituting policies that restrict the use of racial slurs on campus, suggesting that, for them, this particular category of speech does not merit mandated exposure on campus. Just 1 in 4 students favor schools disinviting controversial speakers, down from more than 2 in 5 in 2019. Similarly, the number of students who support colleges providing safe spaces or speech codes has fallen over the past two years.

The study also found:

Students say the campus climate stifles free expression, yet speech on campus is making nearly 1 in 5 feel unsafe: More students now say the climate at school prevents some from saying things others might find offensive, and fewer feel comfortable disagreeing in class. Yet slightly more now report feeling unsafe because of comments made on campus than in 2019. This is particularly true for female students and students of color.

These studies, along with the plethora of news stories that have been published over the past decade, demonstrate that the younger generation is less concerned with preserving free speech than they are with limiting speech that might be offensive. It’s important to note that the speech that is considered offensive in this regard happens to be speech that does not line up with wokeist orthodoxy.

As troubling as this problem is, there is a decent chance that it will get worse, especially if things continue the way they have been up to this point. Progressives are not only indoctrinating people attending university; they have also focused their efforts on K-12 students. As you probably already know, public school districts are pushing far-leftist ideology to young children, which means by the time this next generation gets to college, they will have already been freshly indoctrinated.

The fact that schools are no longer teaching civics as they did previously is not exactly helping the situation. According to the Nation’s Report Card, only about a quarter of students are at or above proficiency levels when it comes to civics. The younger generation is not learning about the Constitution, how government works, and the importance of freedom of expression. This is why it is so easy for them to support punishment for those who dare to express ideas they don’t like.

This is one of many reasons why those who value the Constitution and the concept of free speech have to continue pushing back against the authoritarian forces in the culture. Those seeking to influence young minds in a way that gets them to accept far-leftist ideas are not giving up, nor are they resting on their laurels. But they are not invincible – there are ways to protect children from their indoctrination. We just have to be willing to fight for it.


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