Campus polls reveals First Amendment knowledge

By Zachary Donnenfield

City College students participated in a study conducted by “The Guardsman” calculating their collective knowledge and opinions of President Donald Trump and his relationship to the mass media revealing that the majority believe Trump is not justified in his attacks on the press.

The study was conducted by the City College Journalism Department who polled a total of 90 students by asking six questions that served to gain a better understanding of the campus’s knowledge of the First Amendment and whether Trump is infringing upon their rights.

The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Out of the 90 students polled, 26 percent knew what the First Amendment pertained to while 22 percent reported they did not know what the First Amendment was at all, leaving 51 percent who could only cite the Freedom of Speech as being part of the First Amendment.

As a result many students felt like they didn’t have the authority to speak on some of the harder hitting questions reporters asked like, “What do you know about President Trump’s threat to curtail First Amendment rights?”

Some students like graphic design major Tyler Albreksten, 30,  described how exhausting it is keeping up with the news surrounding Trump. “I mean it’s really hard to keep up with media and Trump,”  Albreksten said. “ I have to take breaks sometimes for personal and mental health reasons, but I know it’s happening.”

President Trump’s comments and stances have been shrouded in controversy since he announced his plan to run for presidency in 2015. Since capturing the vote, Trump’s hostility towards the mass media has escalated to his coining of the term “fake news” used to target and label many respected news outlets like “The New York Times.”

When asked if Trump was justified in his attacks on the media illustration major, Simon Lee said “no.”

Adding that: “He’s basically taking whatever he doesn’t agree with or finds insulting and he denying that it’s even real. It’s just lies, and made up.”  

92 percent of students polled agreed with Lee in his assessment that Trump is not justified in his attacks on the media, with the remaining 8 percent declining to comment on the topic.

Of all questions posed to students “do you believe freedom of the press is a critical ingredient of a democratic society” was the only one to be answered in solidarity amongst all 90 participants with a resounding “yes,” seeing it is a critical component of democracy. Collectively the campus students felt that without free press you have biased news and citizens should retain the right to hear both sides of a story.