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A recent survey of college students shows large discrepancies in how conservative and liberal college students view America, capitalism and socialism, and free speech on college campuses.
The 2021 American College Student Freedom, Progress, and Flourishing Survey shows that not only do conservative and liberal college students have contrasting views of America, politics, and economics but that they are likely to interpret their college experience differently, with both providing evidence of a leftward push by higher education.
Released by the Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth at North Dakota State University (NDSU), the survey asked students several questions regarding free expression of varying viewpoints on college campuses as well as their views on America and economics and how those views had been affected by their time at college.
Grabbing headlines is the result of the question, “Are you proud to be an American?” To this, 57 percent of liberal students answered that they are not proud to be American while 73 percent of conservative students said they are proud to be American. Study authors and NDSU professors John Bitzan and Clay Routledge responded to this finding by writing,
“This is a surprising result. Previous work done by Clay Routledge shows that most Americans are proud to be American, regardless of political party, gender, race, religion, income, or employment status. We don’t know why college students answered in this way, but the differences between answers by college students and the general population on a very similar question seem to suggest something unique that is worth further exploration.”
The students’ responses also showed a great disparity in the way liberal and conservative students viewed their college experience. For example, 86 percent of liberal students said they felt like their professors create a classroom climate in which people of diverse views would feel welcome to share their opinions, while only 56 percent of conservative students answered positively. What’s more, 72 percent of liberal students said that professors create a climate where people with unpopular views would feel comfortable sharing their opinions, while only 46 percent of conservative students agreed.
Liberal and conservative disagreements over speech continued throughout the survey. A key area was the issue of censorship, as 42 percent of liberal students said that if required reading includes content that makes students feel uncomfortable that material should be dropped while only 20 percent of conservatives agreed. In addition, 85 percent of liberal students said that if a professor says something a student finds offensive the professor should be reported to the university, and 76 percent of liberal students said the same for a student who offends another student with their words. By contrast, 41 percent and 31 percent of conservative students, respectively, agreed with those two statements.
Liberal and conservative students also had opposing views on economics. Far from being minute differences over government spending, however, these differences constitute wildly divergent views on capitalism and socialism. Only 9 percent of liberal students had a positive view of capitalism, while 61 percent had a negative view, but 52 percent of conservative students viewed capitalism favorably while only 16 percent viewed it negatively.
Meanwhile, 47 percent of liberal students had a positive view of socialism compared to only 13 percent negative, while 69 percent of conservative students had a negative view of socialism.
Two-thirds of liberal students also disagreed that capitalism can help solve problems such as climate change and poverty, but a nearly equal amount of liberal students said that socialism can help solve those same problems.
Students are not blank slates. They go into college with views from their parents, schools, friends, media, and personal experience, but their views can be swayed, especially if they don’t have a strong understanding of why they believe what they do. As this study clearly demonstrates, colleges are helping to push students further left. For example, 81 percent of liberal students said that college was helping them to develop a more accurate view of the United States whereas only 44 percent of conservative students agreed.
While the authors of the study were surprised that liberal students were not proud to be Americans, the above answer is a clear indicator of why that belief is such an outlier compared to the rest of America. Where patriotism used to be a bipartisan value among young people, it is increasingly a conservative one as leftists in the education system openly teach students to see their country as irredeemably flawed in every area, including its history, its ideals, and its economic system. This is the result of a high school education which failed these students and a college education that, more often than not, seeks to finish the indoctrination process.
The finding in this study that only 16 percent of liberal students believe that capitalism can solve problems, particularly poverty, while 65 percent believe socialism can shows why measures such as Florida’s initiative to teach students about the evils of communism are necessary.
These students are living in the most prosperous nation in human history because of freedom and capitalism, yet they believe the solution to poverty is an ideology that has brought abject pain and suffering to people around the globe no matter how many times it has been tried.
If students haven’t learned the dangers of socialism and restricting free speech by the time they get to college, they definitely won’t learn it there, and in fact, they’ll be that much more easily persuaded to embrace the tenets of both cultural and economic Marxism.
Therefore, it is crucial that parents teach their children the values of freedom and benefits of capitalism at home and give them the tools that they’ll need combat the specious arguments and teachings used by leftist teachers and professors — while also considering alternatives to sending their child to a school bent on teaching them to hate their country and its values.