Overwhelming majority of Americans want pro-Palestinian students punished

By Around the Web

Jennifer Nuelle
Daily Caller News Foundation

The majority of Americans want pro-Palestinian protesters to face penalties for wreaking havoc on college campuses, according to a poll conducted in May.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) conducted a poll asking Americans their thoughts on the college campus encampment protests. The poll shows that the majority of Americans said that vandalizing school property (80%), burning an American flag (68%) or occupying buildings (52%) are “never” acceptable forms of protest, according to FIRE’s website.

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While approximately 72% of Americans believe campus protesters should face some form of punishment, only 18% think the punishment should be the highest sanction of expulsion. Other responses ranged from those believing penalties like suspension (13%), probation (16%), a written reprimand (12%) or community service (13%) are adequate.

The majority of the Americans surveyed said it is “always” acceptable to create a petition (58%), hold a sign as a form of protest (55%) and a combination say the same for marching for long distances (45%).

Those surveyed felt differently about their level of sympathy for Palestinians in Gaza. Approximately 63% of Americans said the protests had zero impact on their level of sympathy for Palestinians in Gaza, whereas 17% of respondents said they are less likely to sympathize with Palestinians as a result of the protests. Only 16% said the campus protests made them sympathize more.

“Public colleges and universities can usually ban encampments without violating the First Amendment, so long as the ban serves a reasonable purpose, enforcement is consistent and viewpoint-neutral, and students maintain other avenues for expressing themselves. Universities can’t disproportionately punish students just because administrators don’t agree with the viewpoint being expressed at the encampment,” said FIRE Director of Campus Rights Advocacy Lindsie Rank in an email to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Universities across the country have been confronted with protesters defacing school property, leaving debris and assaulting police officers. Columbia University had hundreds of protester arrests, and one Jewish student filed a lawsuit against the university, accusing the New York school of failing to protect Jewish students.

The poll conducted by FIRE was part of an AmeriSpeak probability panel by NORC at the University of Chicago, surveying 1,309 Americans, showing an overall margin of +/- 4%. NORC is a nonpartisan research organization that works with clients, conducting research and analyses.

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