Why Pomona Students Are Afraid to Say What They Think

Nearly 90 percent of Pomona College students surveyed in a new Gallup-Knight Foundation poll believe that the campus climate prevents them from saying something others might find offensive. The poll, conducted by Gallup for the college, reached about 35 percent of students and 65 percent of faculty. The Claremont Independent, the campus conservative paper, says the poll reported that a mere 3 percent of students and 4 percent of faculty are conservative.

Half of the students who are liberal and 75% of those who identified as very liberal supported certain speech restrictions.

One rising sophomore told the Independent on the condition of anonymity that “[m]ore than being afraid of saying things that others could find offensive, I think a lot of people on campus, including myself, feel like if they say anything that goes against the surface level campus culture dogma, they could be socially shunned.”

The climate on my campus prevents students/faculty from saying things they believe because others might find them offensive (% Strongly agree/Somewhat agree)

Pomona College students: 88%

Pomona faculty: 63%

Gallup-Knight Foundation Study: 54%

“The fact that I’d rather be anonymous for fear of people ‘blacklisting’ me for giving a quote to the Claremont Independent is a testament to how prevalent this sentiment is. Unfortunately, because college is supposed to be some of the most fulfilling years of my life socially, I don’t want to risk being ostracized, and that results in less honest campus discourse,” he added.

Only 27% of students agreed that they were comfortable sharing ideas held exclusively by a minority of people, compared with over 50% of students nationally.

Students were also divided on how well the college accommodated different racial/ethnic groups. While 65% of white and Asian students thought the college had a good or excellent racial climate, only 50% of Hispanic students and 43% of black students held the same opinion.

Students who identified as black also were the most likely to feel it is “more important for colleges to prohibit certain speech or expression of viewpoints” at 63%, compared with 36% of whites, 55% of Hispanics, and 59% of Asians.

John Leo

John Leo

John Leo is the editor of Minding the Campus, dedicated to chronicling imbalances within higher education and restoring intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years.

2 thoughts on “Why Pomona Students Are Afraid to Say What They Think

  1. If students are afraid to voice their real thoughts and this is one of the most extreme liberal colleges in the nation then what does that say about the liberal mindset?

    A complete and absolute paradox.

  2. Many white and Asian students are afraid to say what they think, but they also think the campus climate is good? That’s implied by the high percentages stated in the article.


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