Tags: College | Freshmen | Lean | Left

College Freshmen Lean Left

Monday, 28 January 2002 12:00 AM

The poll conducted by the university's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies found that 29.9 percent of freshmen entering a four-year college last fall pegged themselves as "liberal" or "far left," the highest level of liberalism in 20 years.

However, most of the survey was completed before Sept. 11. Since then polls have shown a strengthening conservative movement nationwide, with

"Although students are less likely to identify themselves as 'liberal' than they were in the early 1970s, the popularity of the liberal label has increased for five consecutive years and is at its highest point since 1975," said UCLA education professor Linda Sax, who directed the annual survey.

The 2001 results show 2.2 percent more students label themselves as liberal than during the autumn of 2000. The number was at its lowest in 1981 when only 21 percent of first-year students adopted the liberal label; the all-time high was 40.9 percent in 1975.

UCLA found that 49.5 percent of the 411,970 freshmen surveyed described themselves as politically "middle-of-the-road" citizens compared to 51.9 percent in 2000, and 20.7 percent considered themselves to be "conservative" or "far right."

The reasons for the apparent shift to the left appeared to be wide-ranging as the survey found more students in favor of abolishing the death penalty, legalized homosexual "marriages" and legalized marijuana.

There was also a sharp increase in the percentage of students who considered themselves to be politically active; 20.9 percent said they frequently discussed politics, compared to the record low of 16.4 percent the previous year. Almost 48 percent said they had participated in organized protest demonstrations, compared to 45.4 percent in 2000.

"It is unclear whether gains in political interest signal a reversal of the long-term trend toward political disengagement," Sax said. "These one-year changes likely reflect students' reaction to the contested 2000 presidential election and its historic aftermath."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The poll conducted by the university's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies found that 29.9 percent of freshmen entering a four-year college last fall pegged themselves as liberal or far left, the highest level of liberalism in 20 years. However, most...
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2002-00-28
Monday, 28 January 2002 12:00 AM
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