Speech First Report: FOIAed Materials Reveal Freshman Orientation Indoctrinates New Students

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Washington, D.C. (August 10, 2022) – A new report from Speech First, a non-profit member organization committed to protecting freedom of speech on campus, reveals that students arriving for their freshman year at university are undergoing a training akin to a week at a re-education camp rather than a presentation helping them understand the critical role of liberal education in enriching their lives and futures.

Through the submission of over fifty Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, Speech First acquired all of the presentations, hand-outs, videos, modules, and other records disseminated by American universities across the country in their new student orientations. Speech First analyzed the content of the acquired material and compiled the 2022 Freshman Disorientation Report [EMBED LINK]. The Report offers an unprecedented window into the themes and material students are subjected to in America’s largest public universities.

“From what we learned,” states Cherise Trump, Executive Director of Speech First, “It is clear that our public universities do not provide incoming students with a foundation of respect for free speech, open discourse, and civic education. Instead, they focus incessantly on issues regarding race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and guilting incoming students into believing they are implicitly biased and must view themselves and their fellow students as possible racists and bigots.”

Findings include:

  • Only 30% of schools mention free speech 
  • Only 33% of schools mention viewpoint diversity
  • 91% stress DEI topics including: microaggressions, anti-racism, trigger warnings, bias, racial equity, and discrimination
  • At the campuses that mentioned both DEI topics and free speech, when comparing how many materials dealt with free speech and viewpoint diversity issues vs. DEI issues, there was
  • 6.7 times more PowerPoint slides related to DEI issues
  • 3.2 times more handout materials related to DEI issues
  • 7.37 times more video material related to DEI issues

This concerning situation only exacerbates an already alarming situation on college campuses. A 2021 joint study conducted by FIRE, College Pulse, and RealClear Politics revealed that more than 80% of students in the U.S. self-censor their viewpoints at their college – two thirds of students (66%) deem it acceptable to shout down a speaker to prevent them from speaking on campus, and one in four (23%) deem it acceptable to use violence to stop a campus speech.

Ms. Trump concludes, “It is no wonder why there are so many students willing to report on one another, shout each other down, and cancel one another’s events. There is virtually no attempt on the part of these universities to educate students on their constitutional rights, the importance of debate and open discourse, or the history of free speech in America. Our rights to free speech are foundational to the tradition of freedom undergirding the American constitutional order. Given their centrality to liberal education in particular, it is shocking that the themes surrounding the defense and exercise of free speech are barely covered in freshman orientation programs of American universities, the first gatherings through which universities begin to shape the students entering the gates of their campus, and which present an invaluable opportunity to educate and inspire students. Instead, this opportunity is not only squandered, it is redirected to the detriment of the students and the broader society.”

Fox News covered this story exclusively: College freshman orientation materials emphasize DEI over free speech, report reveals.

To schedule an engagement with Speech First, please contact Caroline Thorman at caroline@athospr.com and info@athospr.com.

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