THURSDAY 4/7/2022 2:30 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A University of Wisconsin-Stout professor has decided to delay sending a survey to UW System students about their thoughts on free speech until fall after an interim chancellor resigned over the questionnaire.

UW-Stout’s Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation had planned to send the survey out to students systemwide Thursday.

But UW-Whitewater Interim Chancellor Jim Henderson quit Monday, saying chancellors oppose the questionnaire and Interim System President Michael Falbo flip-flopped on allowing it.

Timothy Shiell, the Stout professor who runs the Menard Center, told Falbo in an email Wednesday afternoon that “given current circumstances” he must delay the survey until fall.

He said the delay will enable the center to answer questions about the survey.

Original Story: UW System to release free speech survey, interim chancellor quits

WEDNESDAY 4/6/2022 4:07 p.m.

WISCONSIN (WFRV) – The University of Wisconsin System is scheduled to release a free speech survey for undergraduate students Thursday and an interim chancellor has resigned over the decision.

The ‘Student Perceptions of Campus Free Speech Survey’ will be sent to students at the UW System’s 13 public universities and officials say it aims to measure and analyze students’ perception of free speech and freedom of expression at their universities.

According to a release sent by system staff, the topic of campus free speech has become a polarizing topic of debate around the country and the survey will provide much needed data.

School personnel says the survey will revolve around the following questions:

  • Have students witnessed or experienced formal sanctions or punishment for constitutionally protected expression?
  • What do students know about First Amendment free speech rights? How much do they value these rights?
  • Do students self-censor? If so, why do they self-censor?
  • To what extent do student perceptions vary with demographic factors such as their political party affiliation, gender, and race/ethnicity?
  • How much do students value viewpoint diversity? Do they perceive problems in viewpoint diversity at their campus?

Opposition to the free speech perception survey

Jim Henderson, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s interim chancellor, abruptly resigned Monday.

Dr. James Henderson.

Henderson explained he resigned over the UW System’s decision to query students about free speech rights and offered little explanation beyond that he felt he could no longer help recruit the best person to fill the position permanently.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported Wednesday that Henderson was upset over Interim System President Michael Falbo’s decision to send out the survey after initially deciding that schools wouldn’t do it. Henderson told the newspaper that chancellors oppose the survey.

Falbo says his stance on the survey changed last week after the center’s director told him that chancellors’ concerns were based on incomplete information.

The survey is funded by UW-Stout’s Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation and is being conducted by the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service, a unit of the UW System.

“The goal of the project is to provide previously unavailable, highly relevant information that we hope will better inform discussions about potential changes to policy or law,” said Timothy Shiell, director of the Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation.

The UW System reports that an advisory board representing a range of viewpoints has reviewed the survey and will review the final report before it is released.

The survey is scheduled to be open from April 7 until May 6, 2022. For more information, click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.