By Robel Tadesse || Contributing Writer

Students’ self-censorship contributes to lack of viewpoint diversity, requiring a culture change on college campuses.

Heterodox Academy—a non-profit organization whose mission is to “improve the quality of research and education in universities by increasing open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement”—recently published its annual Campus Expression Survey Report.

The 2022 Report identifies four main takeaways which are summarized below:

  1. Students’ reluctance to discuss controversial topics remains high but shows signs of improvement. Heterodox Academy defines controversial topics as those dealing with religion, sexual orientation, race, politics, and gender.  Of the 1,564 college students that were surveyed, 58.8% of students reported self-censoring on one or more these topics.
  1. Students’ reluctance is associated primarily with fear of negative social consequences from peers. Fear of negative reactions from fellow students was a primary reason students would self-censure. Interestingly, there was a mismatch between the reactions students feared from other students and how they themselves would react in the same situation.
  1. High peer interaction is associated with greater expression among students. The results conducted by Heterodox Academy found a positive correlation between physical interaction and willingness to discuss controversial topics. 
  1. Campus culture needs continued improvement to foster viewpoint diversity. While 63% of students indicated that their university or college encourages viewpoint diversity, about the same percentage of students surveyed indicated that they still feared causing offense if they openly shared their views on campus. 

Overall, the 2022 report showed slight improvements over results from 2020 and 2021, which is encouraging. However, the response from nearly two thirds of the respondents illustrates the need for a sustained campus climate change and a collaborative effort by all members of higher education.

The 2022 Report can be accessed here. If you are interested in becoming a student affiliate of Heterodox Academy, learn more by visiting

Robel Tadesse is a contributing writer. His email is