POLL: 1 in 5 Idaho students feel 'shamed or bullied' for their views

A study by the Idaho State Board of Education examines the state of free expression at the school’s public colleges and universities.

Most students report feeling comfortable sharing their beliefs with others, even though some have felt 'shamed or bullied' for doing so.

A new study by the Idaho State Board of Education found that around 20 percent of students at the state’s public colleges and universities say they “feel shamed or bullied for their personal beliefs or viewpoints” at least occasionally. 

While 78% said they “never or rarely feel shamed or bullied,” an official with the Idaho State Board of Education confirmed with Campus Reform that 2% of respondents declined to answer.

The Board’s Chief Academic Officer, Dr. TJ Bliss, said campus climates have room for improvement. “There is a group of students, from 10% to 33% that indicated at least occasionally feeling not valued, not respected or having a sense of belonging, or at least occasionally feeling pressured to affirm or accept beliefs or shamed or bullied for their personal beliefs.”

[RELATED: STUDY: Academics systemically hostile toward conservatives]

The students reported a positive campus climate. Eighty-seven percent said they feel valued; 95% said they feel respected, and 90 percent said they felt a sense of belonging.

State Board President Kurt Liebich said, “The good news is most of our postsecondary students, regardless of political leaning, gender, race, or age feel valued, respected and welcome on our campuses.”

Students who responded to the survey were generally knowledgeable about their free speech rights: Seventy-six percent say they “are familiar with safeguards and policies that protect freedom of expression.” 

An overwhelming majority – 89 percent – of respondents said they “feel safe to express their personal beliefs or viewpoints with others.”

[RELATED: SURVEY: 80% of students are ‘self-censoring their viewpoints’, many feel uncomfortable speaking up in class]

The students surveyed, who make up more than 16% of the graduate and undergraduate students at Idaho’s public colleges and universities, said they see value in activities and opportunities that teach them about other ways of thinking. 

Eighty-five percent “agree that it is important to participate in courses and activities that are designed specifically to enhance understanding of other’s [sic] beliefs and viewpoints.”

Idaho’s students seem to be faring far better on campus than many of their peers across the country. A survey commissioned by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education found that 80% of college students say they self-censor on campus, as Campus Reform previously reported.

 Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito