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Simple but valid question: "so what really defines a school as liberal vs conservative?"

24

Replies to: Simple but valid question: "so what really defines a school as liberal vs conservative?"

  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger Registered User Posts: 1,578 Senior Member
    I think there’s two axes to the political environment: left vs right and intensity. Only about half of college students vote, indicating political apathy among college students.
  • circuitridercircuitrider Registered User Posts: 2,373 Senior Member
    @warblersrule wrote:
    Wake is the only prominent southern university that I'd consider politically moderate.

    So... there are more politically moderate universities located in the north than in the south? That sounds counter-intuitive.
  • northwestynorthwesty Registered User Posts: 2,698 Senior Member
    About 98.6% of U.S. colleges are politically more liberal than the general population. Even the ones cited above (Vandy, Wake, UVA, etc.) that might be considered to be a bit less liberal.

    For example, ND's student straw poll last November was 59% Hillary and 24% Trump.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,176 Senior Member
    northwesty wrote:
    For example, ND's student straw poll last November was 59% Hillary and 24% Trump.

    For comparison, exit polls of 18-24 year old voters showed a 56/34 split. But that age group is generally more left leaning in its voting compared to the overall voting population.
    http://www.cnn.com/election/results/exit-polls
  • USdncrUSSRsoulUSdncrUSSRsoul Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
    @ohiodad51 Thank you,.. I believe you definitely clarified the question for me. As well as another post that said how much is going on campus when a student may not be necessarily politically motivated. Smaller considerations that may or may not always be witnessed during a college visit that could definitely impact the atmosphere of the campus,..basically your living environment when not in your classes. And another good point someone said was,..where the mix of climate could be different between graduate and undergraduate.
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 29,489 Senior Member
    I agree with Ohiodad's suggestions. I also think you may want to think about the difference between fiscally and socially conservative. One of my college roommates was a registered Republican, but she was very uncomfortable with the growing social conservatism of the party. She is now a Democrat FIW.

    My younger son went to college pretty much as a knee jerk liberal - after four years with a large and noisy group of social justice warriors he became more thoughtful and probably more conservative.
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 12,254 Senior Member
    edited October 14
    Students determine the tone of the school. The definition of radical and conservative also changes. Radical ideas of an era may become the norm in later years. I noticed a shift from my freshman to senior years at the end of the Vietnam war era in incoming freshmen (lived in the dorms- sure beat commuting). The radicalism died down and more conservative dress et al occurred. It is all relative. I thought I was conservative until I left my home county- home to UW-Madison. The flagship reflects the state since most of its students come from it. Views get modified with exposure to new ideas.

    Do not be afraid of liberal schools. By now you have either instilled your views or not. Your child will find his/her comfort level. An individual does not need to participate or feel threatened by the most active/vocal groups, whether it be the Greeks or Radicals. Rather, they should look at typical life.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 9,847 Senior Member
    This chart makes it very clear why most college students lean "liberal". Most people between 18-29 lean liberal. 70-90% (90 if you include socially but not fiscally), and that includes people older than college age.

    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/07/09/the-politics-of-american-generations-how-age-affects-attitudes-and-voting-behavior/

    or

    http://news.gallup.com/poll/172439/party-identification-varies-widely-across-age-spectrum.aspx

    So it's not at all surprising that college students lean that way too.

    The exceptions are generally not found in the "top 25 universities" - think Liberty U, Grove City, Bob Jones, Hillsdale, perhaps some of the Mormon or Catholic ones. And that's because to varying degrees, being politically and/or socially conservative is part of the mission.
  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger Registered User Posts: 1,578 Senior Member
    edited October 14
    This chart makes it very clear why most college students lean "liberal". Most people between 18-29 lean liberal. 70-90% (90 if you include socially but not fiscally), and that includes people older than college age.

    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/07/09/the-politics-of-american-generations-how-age-affects-attitudes-and-voting-behavior/

    That’s an extreme reading of the poll. To get to 90%, you have to shift all the bystanders to the liberal column. You then have to shift the Young Outsiders to the liberal column, but not move the socially conservative faith and family left or the anti immigrant skeptics to the conservative column.
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 9,847 Senior Member
    edited October 14
    Ah good point I didn't look at Bystanders. I basically looked at "red" columns with and without Young Outsiders who are defined as socially liberal.

    Do you read it as a conservative majority @roethlisburger ?
  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger Registered User Posts: 1,578 Senior Member
    edited October 14
    ^I read it as about 35% of the non-bystanders being conservative whether you divide by fiscal or social issues
  • ARTCCARTCC Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    edited October 15
    We were very concerned about potential college leadership and/or faculty political bias when our D was selecting colleges to visit and apply to. Here are a few tips to "take the pulse" of a particular college and its faculty:

    1. Visit https://www.opensecrets.org/ and in the search box, type in the name of a college. Since political donors are required to list their employer, you can see the names of college employees, such as leadership and faculty, and which candidates they donated to, and how much, along with a spectrum of how the donations were split between Democrats and Republicans. Look for names of campus leaders such as college presidents, deans, and/or prominent faculty.

    2. Nothing beats actually visiting campuses, and having the potential student sit in on a class or two if possible. During one college visit, our D sat in on an economics class and our D was impressed by the professor's objectivity about presenting multiple viewpoints. While walking around the campus, you can see what clubs and organizations, especially student political organizations such as College Republicans or College Democrats are posting on bulletin boards and even political candidate bumper stickers on cars in faculty lots.

    3. Remotely, one can read the student produced college newspaper websites online and see what points of view are reflected in student produced news stories and editorials, given that sometimes student newspapers have limited audience reach and can differ significantly from what the mainstream of the campus believes.

    4. Additionally, it is helpful to read the press releases on college websites as well as their social media sites. Do guest speakers the college invite to speak on campus represent a variety of points of view or is it limited to one particular viewpoint? Do posted college policies from the college president on down promote a civil and free exchange and debate of ideas? What political ideas do senior college leaders promote in their official campus leadership roles?

    5. Finally, visit the website of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) https://www.thefire.org/ and search colleges to see if the ones you're interested in seek to impose unconstitutional speech codes to restrict or curtail communication of unpopular or controversial points of view. Although FIRE has often been criticized because they get lots of donations from the political right, they are fairly consistent in challenging all violations of First Amendment rights. Our D visited a public university and one of the sister campuses of that public university tried to ban students from passing out copies of the U.S. Constitution on campus (public property) except in a tiny "free speech zone" in a remote part of the campus. FIRE provided an attorney to challenge this blatantly unconstitutional rule and won the two students who challenged it a $50,000 settlement and elimination of "free speech zones" at all of the campuses in that particular state university system as part of the settlement.

    An authentic Liberal Arts College will reflect and promote a real diversity of opinions, genuine debate, and thought expressed in a civil environment. Ironically, many colleges seem to seek a diversity of students as defined by nationality and race, but some only seem to value a very narrow minded political worldview.
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