College campuses are well-known for being hotbeds of political activism. Students and faculty often express their views on controversial topics, from protests to speeches. But what happens when discussions get too heated? That’s where the concept of “self-censorship” comes in.
Definition of Self-censorship
Self-censorship is the act of withholding one’s views on a given topic out of fear of offending others or causing conflict. It can take several forms, from avoiding topics entirely to self-monitoring one’s language and tone. It may even lead to self-imposed isolation in some situations, as people isolate themselves from others who have opposing viewpoints.
There are several reasons why self-censorship may occur on college campuses. For one, the pressure to conform to group norms can be strong, especially for students who are still exploring their identity and place in the world. Additionally, the fear of retaliation or retribution from those who disagree with one’s views can be a deterrent to open dialogue. Unfortunately, the desire to maintain positive relationships and avoid conflict may also lead individuals to self-censor.
College is a time of new experiences, people, and ideas. It’s also a time when censorship tries to take hold. Today, college students are dealing with self-censorship due to social media posts that could get them in trouble with their colleges.
While it may seem that college students today are immersed in a new era of political correctness, students in the 1960s were also living in a time when social pressure was silencing their ideas.
Students were pressured to keep quiet about their political and social beliefs in both eras because those convictions could have been used to bar them from getting a job or gaining admission into graduate school.
The problem with these recent instances of self-censorship is that they’re self-censorship, not censorship. Students are silencing their minds by being afraid to speak out against political correctness and social pressure to embrace a particular ideology.
With the rise of “safe spaces” on college campuses, students have created a backlash against those who seek to impose their ideas on others. Students are afraid that if they express opposition to their College’s mandatory gender studies classes, it could lead them to be barred from graduation, fired, or denied admission into graduate school.
These concerns stem from the fact that under Title IX, a federal law, a college cannot legally discriminate against an individual based on sex (a person’s gender identity or gender expression, which may include their appearance) unless it provides equal opportunities.
Students of all political ideologies should express their views openly and freely without fear of repercussions such as job loss or denial of admission to graduate school or scholarships.
Is College A safe space For College Censorship?
This trend of seeking comfort in groups rather than speaking up or challenging ideas is nothing new. In the 1960s, students created specific “safe spaces” in universities that were meant to provide them a place to speak their minds without taking any social risks.
Students have also created safe spaces to protect against other threats. The University of Chicago was one example of this trend, where one student said, “I will no longer be a human being unless I am an explorer and experimenter in the fields of learning. I will not learn what I do not choose to learn.”
69% of first-year college students feel their campuses are “a place where people can be assured of free speech and exchange of views,” according to Pew Research Center research. In contrast, only 14% of adults agree that their colleges are a place where free speech is encouraged. Many feel they must be politically correct to keep their jobs or gain admission into graduate programs when it comes to college students.
This problem is that it stifles their speech and makes them fearful of sharing their true beliefs. It also creates a divide between the students and faculty, who want to protect their jobs and reputations as educators.
Self-censorship on social media is on the rise as well. According to a study by the Brookings Institute, 43% of teens said they were fearful about posting political opinions on Facebook or social media for fear it could lead to bullying or harassment.
The Pew Research Center also found that 50% of all internet users (not just college students) said they no longer post content that they wouldn’t like to see on their social media. While students want the freedom to express themselves, many are afraid of getting in trouble and losing their jobs, or gaining access to graduate school.
Also, many professors are afraid of being seen as biased against or disrespectful to certain groups, which could hurt their jobs or reputations. While it’s understandable that students are fearful of their futures and jobs, they need to realize that what they say on social media today can haunt them tomorrow. Students must speak out against political correctness and “safe spaces” if they wish to maintain their ability to express their political beliefs without risking professional or legal repercussions.
In many cases, self-censorship rises directly from students’ actions. Many students engage in the same type of political correctness that they abhor. They criticize those who challenge their beliefs and then get angry when they are criticized in return. In these polarized times, both sides are responsible for behaving respectfully and civilly towards each other.
Drawbacks of self-censorship
While self-censorship can have its benefits, such as preventing hurt feelings or preserving relationships, it also has a number of drawbacks. For one, it stifles open dialogue and inhibits intellectual growth. It can also lead to a climate of mistrust and suspicion, as individuals are reluctant to express their views for fear of retribution. Finally, it can breed conformity and sameness, which can harm the overall campus community.
So what can we do to combat self-censorship on college campuses?
We can create an environment where open dialogue is encouraged and respected, for starters. This means establishing ground rules for respectful debate and providing resources for those who feel marginalized or unheard. Additionally, we can create a climate of trust by ensuring that all voices are valued and respected. We can encourage students to step outside their comfort zones and explore new ideas, even unpopular or controversial.
College is meant to be a place where students can explore new ideas and find their political identity. While there is room for political correctness, students should express their opinions freely without fear of having them reflected on their job applications or in graduate schools. If we want to preserve the value of freedom of speech and inquiry that College offers students, we must let them know that the First Amendment exists not only in universities but also in the real world.