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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Students’ political views evolve

    College freshmen who grew up in extremely conservative homes are now being exposed to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. And, according to a nationwide survey of the 2015 class, they like it.

    This increase in liberalism among college students does not come as a shock. In an age where medical marijuana cards are the new fake IDs and fame and fortune come with being a pregnant teen, it is difficult not to form strong opinions about the issues that surround us. Although research in political science and sociology has shown our parents’ political leanings are indicators of our own views, college has its own impact.

    “Naturally, I kind of just follow what they (my parents) think, which is Republican,” said Gracie Yost, a pre-communication freshman. “But I feel like when I take the time to really think about what being conservative actually means, I could have a lot of different opinions on some relevant issues than what I was brought up with.”

    The Cooperative Institutional Research Program at the Higher Education Research Institute of University of California, Los Angeles surveyed more than 200,000 full-time students entering four-year colleges and universities around the country. The survey found that freshmen have become dramatically more liberal toward the most polarizing social and political issues of our generation: abortion, marijuana legalization, illegal immigration and affirmative action.

    The survey did not examine how many freshmen actually register Democratic, but about 30 percent of respondents described their views as far left or liberal and 23 percent as far right or conservative, leaving about 47 percent in the “middle of the road.”

    The survey’s findings prompt us to question the reasons behind such major liberal opinions. Unfortunately, college students do not uphold a reputation for being the wisest people. We are often looked down upon because of our ability to live like adults but act like zoo animals.

    Most undergraduates’ only responsibility is to succeed in school. Two-thirds of students do not work during their college years according to data from the Center of Postsecondary and Economic Success. It makes sense that we have liberal views while living in our university bubble. Unfortunately, living in the dorms does not prepare us for society’s true colors. The majority of students have volumes to learn about the real world.

    Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative at 40, you have no brain.” When first starting to discover what we think is important and what we passionately believe in, thinking liberally seems to be logical.

    But, without having jobs with salaries and benefits, we have a slightly skewed vision of society.

    We can write papers, research, and analyze scholarly articles to earn A’s, but our political and social opinions are somewhat naive when we don’t have real jobs with real tax dollars going toward real expenditures.

    Whether it’s using college as a way to stray away from generated political views or engaging in issues that are relevant to our generation, liberal opinions of freshmen are nationwide. Arizona students are not the only ones who have an opinion on border issues and green plants.

    For now, liberalism among college freshmen is logical, popular and invigorating. True “lefties” will remain loyal to their liberal perspectives but like Churchill predicted, a 20-year-old mind is much different from the mind of a working taxpayer.

    — Caroline Nachazel is a junior studying journalism and communication. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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