How Much Self-Censoring at Wellesley?

I’m just curious what the atmosphere at Wellesley is like for people with a diversity of opinions, both in the classroom and in the dorms? In my family, we have Libertarians, Democrats, and Republicans, so we are accustomed to very lively dinner discussions. But watching the news, it seems like many colleges/universities now are not so welcoming of a diversity of viewpoints…?

There is a chunk of the media which is attracting viewers and eyeballs by classifying various colleges and universities as places where anyone not hewing to the X party line are demonized.

Real life is much more nuanced. If you read the student newspaper, you will get a better handle on life on campus than you will watching the news.

I’ve read stories about “protests” at a college nearby- which got widely covered, folks on Fox screaming about Wokeness, etc. And the reality was three kids arguing with a security officer who asked for their ID before being buzzed in to a building after hours (which is- in fact- the university protocol). If three kids-- who refused a polite request-- is a “protest” or political movement, god help all of us. But it turned out it was neither a protest NOR a political movement- just three drunk kids who were trying to get into a building they weren’t authorized to be in late at night.

Do your own homework.


Watching what news?

Some news likes to talk about this “problem.” Other news never mentions this “problem” at all.

I don’t know of anyone who tries to understand the vibe of a college by watching the news. I suggest looking at the college’s social media outlets and reading sites such as Niche, which is based on student reviews.

You are likely to get a better feel for a college by listening to students and not adults who don’t attend that school and who like to sensationalize with clickbait.


I expect the above NYT article, in which students discuss self-censoring their opinion to avoid " social suicide" has caused concern.


But Ms. Um did not actively oppose the referendum, partly because it was destined to pass, she said, and because pushing against it on campus would be akin to “social suicide.”
With emotions high and division deep, Dr. Johnson said the debate had been unhealthy and that there was enormous social pressure for students to support the referendum. She said that students, faculty and staff had sent her messages saying that they feared being ostracized if they voiced opposition.

I’m not sure if that is specific to any particular college, or even any particular topic.

That feeling is probably present in many situations where one swims against popular (or at least most loudly voiced) opinion: Do you feel like counter-activism and put yourself in the spotlight, or are you okay with just forming your own opinion and then voting based on that?

Two years back, there were students at colleges hotly debating whether their university should divest from investments with ties to Israel. There was a lot of activism and some very loud voices - and, as always, one makes a personal choice about how engaged one wants to be on either side.

From my daughter’s feedback, people obviously were aware of some friends having opinions that might differ - and that was perfectly okay. Young adults need to learn how to live with political differences among their social contacts.

I’m certain, there might be some individuals where that ONE question was the defining criteria - but not being friends with that person isn’t really “social suicide”.


Regardless of level of engagement, I would hope students would be able to offer different opinions without needing to become activists for an issue. Apparently not there. Staying silent or conforming is obviously always an option everywhere but isnt something that was demanded on campuses as much previously.

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On the other hand, sometimes people self-censor because of a perceived outcome. Ultimately, no one knows if she truly would have been ostracized, if she had voiced her opinion.

In the case of the Palestine vs. Israel debate at my daughter’s college, I can see some people feeling intimidated by those who are vocal/active - but what happens (incl. booing) during a public debate or when putting up flyers in the hallways, ultimately didn’t carry over into social life.

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Neither of us can know. But apparently the quoted student, and others to whom she referred, felt that it would amount to social suicide there. That in itself chills free speech