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Indiana Commission for Higher Ed begins surveying undergrads about campus free speech

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Ben Thorp
/
WBAA News
Purdue University is among the campuses surveying students about free speech.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education began surveying college and university undergraduates this week about how they perceive free speech at their schools.

The survey is part of legislation (HEA 1549-2021) passed last year, aimed at determining whether free speech is fostered and recognized on public college and university campuses.

Josh Garrison is Associate Commissioner with the Indiana Commission on Higher Education. He said the goal is to gauge student perspectives.

“What we’re hoping to learn is – across the state, is what do students feel, what do they think around free speech and free expression, how is that playing out on campuses from their point of view?” he said.

The survey asks students how the campus protects speech, how free they feel about sharing their opinions with both peers and professors, and how they think different groups on campus can express themselves.

As a part of HB 1549, Garrison said the commission also put out a report outlining existing free speech policies at Indiana’s public institutions.

“What we did notice is there were not very many instances where freedom of expression were hindered on the campuses,” he said.

Garrison said the best thing public campuses can do is have a policy for free expression and make sure that students are aware of it.

An advisory committee that included members of the various campuses helped put together the survey.

Garrison said there’s no set plan for how the state will use the findings, which are expected to be released in the fall.

Ben Thorp