Annie Deitz, Campus Carrier managing editor
For the last week and a half, the Carrier has had a running survey asking Berry students and employees to give their feedback on a number of ideas related to freedom of speech, hate speech and speech related policy on campus. The poll received 224 responses, with 63.8% of those being from students, 20.1% being from faculty and 16.1% from staff.
The results of this survey come as the Berry administration is developing an updated policy for the college community. The updated policy aims to specify and rectify ambiguity in current codes of conduct for Berry students and employees. The policy is being reviewed and developed by the Presidential Advisory Committee on diversity, equity and inclusion related matters, specifically under the Policies Related to Speech and Behavior subcommittee. For more information on the work of that committee, as well as what it plans to do, read the previous two parts of this series, printed on Apr. 1 and Apr. 8 in the Carrier.
The survey asked Berry community members to express their opinions on a number of issues related to free speech and hate speech, some related specifically to speech on Berry’s campus and some more general questions about the concept of speech. The survey was specifically opinion based, aimed at eliciting the overall viewpoints of the community rather than proving something to be common.
The survey began with a number of questions related to respondent opinion on speech issues in general. On a scale of strongly disagree to strongly agree, 49% of the 224 survey respondents marked that they strongly agreed with the statement “freedom of speech is an inalienable right.” 25% of respondents agreed, 17% were neutral, 2% disagreed and one respondent strongly disagreed. 47% of respondents strongly agreed and 37% agreed with the statement that “colleges and universities in the United States must protect free speech as expressed by the First Amendment,” with others noting neutrality, disagreeing and strongly disagreeing. In response to the statement “the First Amendment does not protect hate speech,” approximately 37% of respondents strongly agreed, 27% of respondents agreed, 21% of respondents were neutral, 10% of respondents were neutral and 4% strongly disagreed.
The following sections discussed speech related issues as they specifically pertain to Berry and campus life. Results from those questions are detailed below.