Researcher says there is gender divide on college campuses over free speech, diversity

Researcher Evette Alexander told Hill.TV this week that there is a gender divide on college campuses when it comes to prioritizing free speech versus inclusion.

“Men and women felt quite differently on what they considered the greater priority,” Alexander, who is director of learning and impact at the Knight Foundation, told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton in a “Rising” interview that aired Friday. “It was a predictor of whether they would favor free speech over inclusion or inclusion over free speech.”

“We found that a substantial majority of college men, 71 percent, said that promoting free speech was the more important priority over diversity inclusion issues,” she said. “We found that over half, 58 percent, of college women said the opposite. So they said that promoting a diverse, inclusive society was the greater concern for them.”

Alexander was referring to a recent Knight Foundation survey that found college students overall wanted educators and policymakers to equally consider free speech and diversity.

Concern about free speech on college campuses has garnered national attention in recent years. President Trump weighed in on the issue in March when he signed an executive order requiring higher education institutions to certify they are enforcing free speech standards in order to receive grants from federal agencies. 

— Julia Manchester

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