The American Student’s Freedom of Expression

The American Student’s Freedom of Expression: A Research Appraisal

E.G. WILLIAMSON
JOHN L. COWAN
R. GEORGE CRAWFORD
VIRGINIA WILLEMS
Copyright Date: 1966
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 212
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.cttttw59
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  • Book Info
    The American Student’s Freedom of Expression
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6492-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-xiv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xv-2)
  3. 1 Rationale and Research Design
    (pp. 3-22)

    Discussions of student academic freedom have seldom been academic. Indeed the atmosphere in which they have proceeded has usually been highly charged with sharp accusations and impassioned pleas for action. In contrast, this present study is an attempt to apply one of the basic tools of scholarship—research—to the problems of student freedom which beset the academic world. Before turning to the more limited task of describing how much and what types of freedom exist and where, we will first briefly delineate the two sides of the basic issue. Although we do not attempt to resolve the current conflict,...

  4. 2 An Atmosphere of Change
    (pp. 23-38)

    One fact emerges from a review of the conflicting reports concerning today’s college students. Students are currently attracting more sustained attention than they have in many years. Some accounts portray them as immature and irresponsible rebels, others emphasize their deepening sense of social responsibility, and still others indicate that they are restless about their rights and responsibilities as students and citizens. In whatever light they are viewed, today’s students no longer resemble the student generation of the fifties, generally characterized (probably with less than full accuracy) as “quiet.”

    In what ways and to what degree have students changed? Are they...

  5. 3 Free Discussion of Controversial Issues
    (pp. 39-60)

    Members of an earlier college student generation might well feel that history is repeating itself as they observe students’ quickening interest in controversial issues, their deepening commitment to social reform, and their awakening to the world around the campus. And today’s activists might be surprised to discover that their involvement in larger issues is no innovation and may be but a pale imitation of their parents’ immersion in the campus political life of the thirties. At that time a host of organizations emerged determined to translate every utopian dream into reality. The hopes of many of these organizations were forgotten...

  6. 4 Invitation of Speakers on Controversial Issues
    (pp. 61-85)

    No single issue in the continuing debate over academic freedom for students has aroused more recent attention than the invitation of off-campus speakers. Students state their platform:

    U.S. National Student Association supports the right to hear in live confrontation an off-campus speaker enunciate any opinion, regardless of its public popularity and regardless of the speaker’s political beliefs or associations, his intellectual merits, or the possibility of causing a public disturbance.¹

    The American Association of University Professors backs them up:

    Any person who is presented by a recognized student organization should be allowed to speak on a college or university campus....

  7. 5 Freedom of Organized Protest Action
    (pp. 86-102)

    If student organizations discuss divisive social issues or invite speakers to discuss them they are likely to decide that action is needed to ameliorate some social ill. How can they then press for the implementation of that action? They can petition, campaign, picket, “sit-in,” or express themselves in some other demonstrative way. Or can they? What limitations do colleges impose on this sort of activity?

    Earlier it was suggested that student action may not be as clearly defensible a part of academic freedom as is student freedom of thought and expression. The intellectual is traditionally a man of contemplative wisdom...

  8. 6 Student Freedom and the Civil Rights Issue
    (pp. 103-123)

    The struggle over civil rights for Negroes has led this nation into a convulsive social revolution, and has also fired the imagination and claimed the energies of the present college generation. Indeed students have played a major role in attempts to resolve this crisis. They have spent summers in Mississippi registering Negro voters, taught in “freedom” schools, and organized and supplied much of the manpower for tutorial programs for deprived Negro children in both the North and the South. They have been prominent in freedom rides, freedom marches, sit-ins, and other demonstrations.

    Students’ concern about civil rights for Negroes and...

  9. 7 The Role of Student Leaders
    (pp. 124-149)

    The limits of several types of academic freedom have been delineated. It is unlikely that those limits will be widened through the autonomous action of most administrators or as the result of violent, undisciplined student demonstrations. It seems to us that the boundaries of student academic freedom can best be set through consultation among administrators and those students in a position to represent fairly and argue cogently in behalf of the needs of students. In order to determine just what the position of student leaders is, vis-à-vis students and administrators, information was gathered on the functions and responsibilities of the...

  10. 8 Where Is Freedom Enjoyed?
    (pp. 150-170)

    To what extent are the currently controversial forms of academic freedom we have been discussing enjoyed by students? At which types of higher educational institutions are each of these freedoms most or least prevalent? The answers to such questions are complex. There are variations among institutions in terms of the racial composition of the student body, geographical location, size of enrollment, purpose of the curriculum, and mission of the controlling authority. Indeed, freedom itself is not a simple, unidimensional phenomenon. There is freedom of discussion, freedom to invite speakers, freedom of organized protest, freedom with regard to civil rights issues,...

  11. APPENDIX The 1000 Colleges and Universities Surveyed
    (pp. 171-184)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 185-193)