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.

Respondents were asked to rank the extent to which they agreed with a number of statements, on a scale of strongly agree to strongly disagree. Respondents answered questions about their opinions related to the current Berry environment.
Respondents were asked to rank the extent to which they agreed with a number of statements, on a scale of strongly agree to strongly disagree. Respondents answered questions related to their experience with speech in the campus community.
Several questions in the survey asked respondents to share on their identity and experiences at Berry, specifically as their identity and experiences relate to speech issues. Respondents were asked where they most closely identify on the political spectrum, including the far left, center left, center, center right and far right. A plurality of respondents identify in the center of the political spectrum.
Several questions in the survey asked respondents to share on their identity and experiences at Berry, specifically as their identity and experiences relate to speech issues. Respondents were asked if they had witnessed or heard something they would consider to fall under the umbrella of “hate speech” on Berry’s campus. 65.3% of respondents said they had at least one time.
Several questions in the survey asked respondents to share on their identity and experiences at Berry, specifically as their identity and experiences relate to speech issues. Respondents were also asked if they had ever felt as if their freedom of speech was limited on Berry’s campus. 60.7% of respondents said they had at least one time.

Posted by Campus Carrier

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