Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

The American Student’s Freedom of Expression

A Research Appraisal

Authors:

Edmund G. Williamson and John L. Cowan

The American Student’s Freedom of Expression
The American Student’s Freedom of Expression

Tags

The American Student’s Freedom of Expression was first published in 1966.

How much freedom of expression do students have on American campuses? Does the extent of freedom vary with the geographical location of the college or university? Does the type of institution -- public or private, large or small, church-sponsored or nonsectarian -- have a bearing on the amount of freedom a student may exercise? Such questions are of critical concern to educators, students, parents, and the general public as student protests, demonstrations, and revolts are taking place on campuses in many parts of the country. Surprisingly, very little factual information has been available to shed light on the basic questions involved.

This study provides such information, based on a survey of the attitudes and situations with respect to student freedom on more than 800 campuses in the United States. Data for the report were obtained from five different groups of respondents at the colleges: presidents, deans of students, chairs of faculty committees on student affairs, student body presidents, and student newspaper editors. They were asked specific questions about freedom of expression on their campuses. For example, they were questioned on the kinds of issues which could be discussed at student meetings, and which of the speakers on a list of names, ranging from Chief Justice Earl Warren to Malcolm X, might be permitted to speak on their campuses.

The data are presented according to geographical locations of the colleges and according to the types of institutions (there are ten categories) represented in the study. There are numerous tables and figures.

This is an important book for administrators, counselors, faculty, and students in American colleges, as well as for parents and public who wish to understand some of the pressing problems in higher education today.

The American Student’s Freedom of Expression

E. G. Williamson was the dean of students at the University of Minnesota. He was the editor of two series of University of Minnesota Press publications, Minnesota Studies in Student Personnel Work and the Minnesota Library on Student Personnel Work.

John L. Cowan was an instructor in the Student Counseling Bureau, University of Minnesota.

The American Student’s Freedom of Expression

Contents

1 RATIONALE AND RESEARCH DESIGN
2 AN ATMOSPHERE OF CHANGE
3 FREE DISCUSSION OF CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES
4 INVITATION OF SPEAKERS ON CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES
5 FREEDOM OF ORGANIZED PROTEST ACTION
6 STUDENT FREEDOM AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE
7 THE ROLE OF STUDENT LEADERS
8 WHERE IS FREEDOM ENJOYED?

APPENDIX

INDEX

LIST OF TABLES

1. Institutional Participation in the Study
2. Categorization of Colleges and Universities
3. Percentage of Schools Reporting Student Organizations To Be Active on the Campus (According to Deans of Students and Student Body Presidents)
4. Percentage of Schools, by Institutional Category, Reporting Student Organizations To Be Active on the Campus (According to Deans of Students)
5. Percentage of Schools Reporting That Various Student Organizations Would Probably Not Be Permitted (According to Deans of Students and Student Body Presidents)
6. Percentage of Schools, by Institutional Category, Reporting That Student Organizations Would Probably Not Be Permitted (According to Deans of Students)
7. Percentage of Schools, by Institutional Category, Reporting That Student Organizations Would Probably Not Be Permitted (According to Deans of Students and Student Body Presidents)
8. Percentage of Respondents, by Institutional Category, Reporting That Students Would Be Permitted to Express Unpopular Viewpoints about Various Topics
9. Percentage of Respondents, by Geographical Region, Reporting Students Would Be Permitted to Express Unpopular Viewpoints about Various Topics
10. Percentage of Schools, by Institutional Category, Reporting All Listed Speakers Had Spoken or Would Be Permitted to Speak (According to Presidents)
11. Percentage of Respondents, by Institutional Category, Reporting Highly Controversial Speakers Had Spoken or Would Be Permitted to Speak
12. Percentage of Respondents, by Institutional Category, Reporting Controversial Speakers Had Spoken or Would Be Permitted to Speak
13. Percentage of Respondents, by Institutional Category, Reporting Acceptable Speakers Had Spoken or Would Be Permitted to Speak
14. Percentage of Respondents, by Geographical Region, Reporting Speakers Had Spoken or Would Be Permitted to Speak
15. Percentage of Respondents, by Institutional Category, Reporting the Administration To Be Quite or Fairly Permissive toward Student Actions
16. Percentage of Respondents, by Geographical Region, Reporting the Administration To Be Quite or Fairly Permissive toward Student Actions
17. Percentage of Respondents, by Five Types of Institution, Indicating Greater than Average Permissiveness toward Civil Rights Items
18. Percentage of Respondents, by Five Types of Institution, Indicating Less than Average Permissiveness toward Civil Rights Items
19. Percentage of Respondents, by Geographical Region, Indicating Permissiveness toward Civil Rights Items
20. Percentage of Permissive Responses to Civil Rights Items for Schools with Negro and White Students in the Southern Region
21. Percentage of Student Editors, by Institutional Category, Respond- ing Affirmatively to Questions about Censorship and Censure
22. Percentage of Schools, by Institutional Category, Responding Affirmatively to Questions about Student Participation in Policy-Making (According to Deans of Students and Student Body Presidents)
23. Percentage of Student Body Presidents, by Institutional Category, Reporting Major Functions of the Student Government Organization

LIST OF FIGURES

1. Distribution of 695 Responding Institutions on Six Variables of Classification Compared to Distribution of Population of 1,000 Institutions
2. Geographical Accrediting Regions
3. Percentage of Schools Indicating Changes in Student Expression during the Period from the Fall of 1961 to the Spring of 1964 (According to Presidents)
4. Percentage of Schools with Various Proportions of Students in Activities Designed to Express Student Viewpoints about Controversial Issues (According to Presidents)
5. Percentage of Schools, by Institutional Category, Reporting Students To Be More Expressive than Before (According to Presidents)
6. Percentage of Schools Agreeing to Various Degrees with the Statement That Student Freedom Is Relevant to Institutional Philosophy (According to Presidents and Deans of Students)
7. Congruity between Presidents' and Deans' Perceptions of the Relevancy of Student Freedom to Institutional Philosophy
8. Responses of Administrators and Students on Freedom to Discuss Fourteen Topics
9. Percentage of Schools Indicating Number of the Fourteen Topics Students Would Be Permitted to Discuss (According to Presidents)
10. Responses of Administrators and Students to Acceptable Speakers
11. Responses of Administrators and Students to Controversial Speakers
12. Responses of Administrators and Students to Highly Controversial Speakers
13. Responses of Administrators and Students to Nine Situations
14. Mean T-Scores on the Situations Factor for Respondent Groups, by Institutional Category
15. Responses of Administrators and Students to Questionnaire Items Related to Civil Rights
16. Mean T-Scores on the Civil Rights Factor for Respondent Groups, by Institutional Category
17. Percentage of Schools and Proportions of Students Making Opinions Known to Student Leaders (According to Student Body Presidents)
18. Percentage of Student Body Presidents Specifying Various Activities To Be Functions of the Student Government Organization
19. Institutional Profile Showing High Congruity of Perception of the Five Respondents from a Large Public University in the Midwest
20. Institutional Profile Showing Low Congruity of Perception of the Five Respondents from a Small Protestant College in the South