A recent study conducted by political science professors at the University of North Carolina finds that conservative students within the UNC system “face distinctive challenges” when it comes to free speech and expression–and nearly 70-percent of them are afraid that they’ll lose friends.

We find that, at every institution in our study, there is a clear ideological divide: self-identified conservatives express free-expression-related concerns at a far higher rate than self-identified liberals,” the study states.

Across the eight campuses involved in the study, researchers determine that liberal students outnumber conservative students by a ratio of three-to-one, which represents a significantly wider division than that which exists on the state level.

According to the results, 68-percent of conservative students are “at least slightly concerned” about the social consequences that may come from their peers as a result of voicing one’s true opinions in class. Comparatively, only 22-percent of liberal students express the same concern.

Perhaps the most concerning finding is that a significant number of conservative students allow these concerns to drive themselves towards self-censorship. More than 46-percent of conservative students reported that they engage in the practice, while only 12-percent of liberal students noted that they do the same.

“These findings are not surprising at all,” Austin Reeder, a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, told Young America’s Foundation. “Some professors paint conservative ideas and students as radical extremists. Anyone who stands up to challenge them puts their social reputation on the line,” Reeder continued.

After hosting a standing-room-only campus lecture featuring the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro last semester and reading “Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism”, which is published by Young America’s Foundation in partnership with the Foundation for Economic Education, the former Young Americans for Freedom chapter leader says he gained the confidence he needed to complete his education without capitulating on his deeply held beliefs and values:

“With the resources they provided, YAF made sure I never felt alone on campus and gave me the confidence I needed to stand up for my beliefs in the classroom, and now in life,” he concluded.

Young America’s Foundation encounters young people who hold these fears on a daily basis. Society has fostered an environment that causes students to shy away from exercising their vital rights that they are guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Fortunately, in the vast majority of cases, our team is able to guide students to overcome their concerns and become the most impactful student activists in the Conservative Movement.

Interested in gaining the confidence you need to defend your conservative beliefs? Join us for an upcoming YAF conference!