Daily Bread for 11.18.22: UW System Releases Free Speech Survey

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 25. Sunrise is 6:51 AM and sunset 4:28 PM for 9h 37m 06s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 29.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1928, the animated short Steamboat Willie premieres as the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, featuring the third appearances of cartoon characters Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.  

Rich Kremer reports on the UW System’s relaunch of a student free speech survey:

The University of Wisconsin System will relaunch a student free speech survey that spurred the resignation of a chancellor six months earlier. The survey is aimed at gauging attitudes toward free speech, viewpoint diversity and self-censorship at the state’s 13 universities. 

The 29-page survey will be sent to random samples of students on each UW campus with researchers hoping for a minimum of 500 responses, according to a UW System press release issued Friday [11.11.22]. 

The questions are multiple choice and ask students things such as how likely they are to consider viewpoints they disagree with on topics like abortion, immigration, racial inequality and gender identity. 

It also asks students whether they’ve felt pressured by an instructor to agree with political or ideological views expressed in class and if they’ve been reprimanded for disagreeing with an instructor. 

Toward the end of the survey, students are asked to provide their enrollment status, race, sexual orientation, religious affiliation and what political party they most identify with. Those who complete the survey will receive a $10 gift card. 

During a call with reporters Friday, UW System President Jay Rothman said the research project is aimed at ensuring the UW System is “committed to being a marketplace of ideas, a place where nuanced and complicated issues can be discussed openly, freely and civilly.” 

“We want passionate debate on tough issues in a way that people can learn and ask questions without being labeled or tainted,” Rothman said. “We’re not going to solve the issues that we have as a society, which are challenging and complicated, by soundbites and tweets.” 

Rothman said the survey has been vetted by outside experts and UW System shared governance groups.

Funding for the survey was provided by the Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation at UW-Stout, with private donations from billionaire John Menard.  

The research team behind the effort includes Tim Shiell, UW-Stout philosophy professor and director of that campus’ Menard Center; Eric Kasper, UW-Eau Claire political science professor and director of the Menard Center for Constitutional Studies; UW-Eau Claire political science professor Geoffrey Peterson; and UW-Eau Claire psychology professor April Bleske-Rechek.

The survey and its implementation is overseen by the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service at UW-Stevens Point at Wausau. 

The UW System’s initial plan was to send the free speech survey to students at the end of the spring semester in May but was delayed after UW-Whitewater’s interim Chancellor Jim Henderson resigned in protest

See UW System Student Perceptions Survey:

‘Moonwalkers’: These strap-on shoes can make you walk three times faster:

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