We Actually Need a Poll to See if People Oppose Defacing, Taking Over Campus Property

Craig Bannister | June 20, 2024
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This is where we’re at today: enough Americans tolerate students defacing and taking over college property that we actually need a poll to count them.

On Thursday, The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) released the results of a national survey conducted by NORC polling Americans’ opinions about various types of campus protests

As it turns out, a troubling number of people actually consider “defacing school property” (aka, vandalism), “occupying buildings” and “establishing encampments” on school grounds to be “acceptable” student behavior:

  • One in three consider establishing encampments on school grounds either sometimes (26%) or always (7%) acceptable.
  • One in four consider occupying school buildings sometimes (19%) or always (6%) acceptable.
  • One in ten think defacing school property is either sometimes (7%) or always acceptable (3%) acceptable.


When it comes to “using amplified sound” to protest on campus, a 57% majority think that’s okay, at least sometimes. In contrast, 40% say it’s rarely (22%) or never (18%) acceptable to disturb the peace in that manner.

Regarding punishment, about one in four Americans think students who set up encampments to take over school grounds should not face any type of discipline at all.

“What consequence, if any, should colleges impose on students participating in campus encampments?”

  • Expelled: 18%
  • Probation: 16%
  • Suspension: 13%
  • Community service: 13%
  • Written reprimand: 12%
  • Not Disciplined: 23%


The FIRE/NORC survey was conducted May 17-19, 2024, using NORC’s AmeriSpeak® probability-based panel, and sampled 1,309 Americans.