1989...CIRP, Not Taylor Swift's 2015 Album

Posted by Jen Berdan Lozano on July 29th, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

The fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. The photo shows a part of a public photo documentation of the wall at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin. This photo is permanently placed in the public.

Most recently made popular by Taylor Swift’s latest album release, 1989 (named after the year she was born), this year is actually notable for many other reasons. Some of the more significant events include the historic fall of the Berlin Wall and the catastrophic Exxon Valdez oil spill, pouring 240,000 barrels (11 million gallons) of oil into Prince William Sound in the Gulf of Alaska. In January, George H. W. Bush was sworn in as the 41st president of the United States, and later in the year, the 14th Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Creating new addictions and countless lost hours, two new video game consoles hit the market: Nintendo’s handheld Game Boy and the Sega Genesis. SimCity was released for the personal computer (continuing to gain momentum in the marketplace), introducing the public to the intricacies of designing, building, and managing their own hypothetical cities complete with residents, or Sims, to maintain. People flocked to the theaters to see movies like Dead Poets Society, When Harry Met Sally, Batman, and the sequels to Ghostbusters and Back to the Future. Meanwhile, the small screen was invaded by the everlasting Energizer Bunny beating his bass drum across their television sets. And Walkmans and Discmans were playing Bobby Brown, New Kids on the Block, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, and Milli Vanilli’s debut album which spent eight non-consecutive weeks at number one and later, in 1990, earned them a Grammy – which was subsequently revoked after the artists confessed to not actually sing the lead vocals.

Amid major global and national events and being inundated with gaming, blockbuster movies, and platinum records, the CIRP Freshman Survey asked incoming college students how they typically spend their time. About three quarters (76.7%) of incoming students spent at least six hours a week socializing with their friends, and just over half (56.6%) said that they partied at least three hours a week (during their last year in high school). Less than a third (31.8%) of freshmen spent six or more hours a week in the past year watching television – perhaps with all the big releases this year going out to the movies was more fun.

When it came to academics, women were more likely than men to spend time during their last year of high school studying or doing their homework. With a ten percentage point gender gap, 47% of women compared to only 36.8% of men spent six or more hours per week studying. Women were also a bit more likely to volunteer, with 64.8% of women volunteering “frequently” or “occasionally” compared to 58.8% of men. Although most students stated that they spent time on computers, men were more likely than women to use a personal computer (be it for school work or playing the new SimCity game) with 80% of men doing so “frequently” or “occasionally” compared to 75.3% of women.

Today, students have shifted how they spend their time, spending less time partying and socializing with friends, and more time on online social networks.

Did you know? 55% of incoming freshmen had visited an art gallery or museum “frequently” or “occasionally” in the past year.

36.4% of incoming students thought that there was a “very good chance” or “some chance” that they would purchase a personal computer within the upcoming year.

43.7% of incoming students thought that there was a “very good chance” or “some chance” that they would need extra time to complete their degree requirements.

1988: Debuts of the Computer Virus and the Jamaican Bobsled Team, Plus Gallaudet University and Student Activism

Posted by Jen Berdan Lozano on July 21st, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

Gallaudet University Deaf President Now march on U.S. Capitol, 1988 (credit: Richard Layman, public domain)

Microsoft continued its success in 1988 with their release of Windows 2.1, capitalizing on the Intel processors. The first major computer virus, the Morris worm, went mainstream, changing the way the world viewed Internet security. Mystery Science Theatre 3000 debuted on television, captivating sci-fi audiences in the Twin Cities. Stephen Hawking published, “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes,” bringing cosmology to the masses. And the stealth bomber was unveiled, showcasing a decade’s worth of development in defense technology.

Canada hosted their first winter Olympics in Calgary and battled tough weather with strong warm winds, delaying numerous events and forcing the alpine competitions to be held on artificial snow for the first time in Olympic history. Aside from the weather, these winter Olympic games boasted a substantial highlight reel. Among the most memorable moments were the Battle of the Brians, in which Brian Boitano narrowly beat out Canadian Brian Orser for the gold in men’s figure skating, and the historical debut of the Jamaican bobsled team (later immortalized in Disney’s 1993 movie “Cool Runnings”).

In higher education news, Dr. I. King Jordan was elected as the first deaf president of Gallaudet University, after a week-long student protest, known as Deaf President Now (DPN), shut down the campus. This was a landmark event in the deaf civil rights movement and highlighted the power and effectiveness of student activism. Gauging the pulse of incoming freshmen on activism in the fall of 1988, the CIRP Freshman Survey questioned students about participating in such events. When asked if they had participated in organized demonstrations within the previous year, over a quarter (27.3%) of students responded that they had “occasionally,” and another 7.7% did so “frequently.”

Students who identified themselves as liberal or far left were more likely to take part in demonstrations than conservative or far right students. Almost four out of ten (38.9%) liberal or far left students compared to about three out of ten (31.3%) conservative or far right students stated that they had “occasionally” or “frequently” participated in organized demonstrations during their last year in high school. Further, women were more likely than men to participate: 37.4% of women versus 32.4% of men indicated their participation.

When asked about the importance of being influential, students overall leaned towards influencing social values more than the political structure. Only 16.8% of students stated that “influencing the political structure” was a “very important” or “essential” goal; while more than twice as many students (37.1%) stated “influencing social values” was a “very important” or “essential”goal. The gap between political affiliations narrows when looking at these goals, with liberal and far left students valuing a bit more than conservative and far right students influencing the political structure (24.1% liberal/far left vs. 22.7% conservative/far right) and social values (43.2% liberal/far left vs. 38.9% conservative/far right) .

Although as a whole, the incoming class leaned towards influencing social values more so than influencing the political structure as a goal, when broken out by gender, men and women responded differently. Women were more likely to consider influencing social values as a “very important” or “essential” goal (40.7% of women compared to 32.7% of men), while men were more likely to consider influencing the political structure as a “very important” or “essential” goal (19.8% of men compared to 14.2% of women).

Did you know? 68.5% of incoming students had done extra (unassigned) work/reading for a class in the past year.

71% of incoming students “agreed somewhat” or “agreed strongly” that employers should be allowed to require drug testing of employees or job applicants.

41.8% of incoming students rated themselves as “above average” or “highest 10%” compared to their peers in popularity with the opposite sex.

1987: Time of Their Lives Interrupted by Black Monday

Posted by Jen Berdan Lozano on July 14th, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

The Federal Reserve, Washington, D.C. (Credit: Photo taken by Stefan Fussan, placed in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

This year was a big year in the entertainment industry. Millions of viewers watched the premiere of television’s Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the Oscar and Grammy winning movie, Dirty Dancing opened on the big screen as a surprising box office hit (the movie almost went straight to video after poor reviews from test audiences!). U2 and Michael Jackson dominated the Billboard charts with their respective albums Joshua Tree (number 1 for nine consecutive weeks) and Bad (number 1 for five consecutive weeks). And the ever-growing Disney franchise signed agreements with the French Prime Minister to start constructing Euro Disney (now Disneyland Paris).

Although money seemed to be flowing in the entertainment biz, it was a different story elsewhere. Inflation was at 3.6% and with Alan Greenspan newly at the helm (appointed by Regan as the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board this year, and continually reappointed until his retirement in 2006), the economy was shocked by a stock market crash. On October 19, 1987, better known as Black Monday, the Dow Jones dropped a whopping 22.6%, one of the worst crashes in U.S. history (it may be no coincidence that only a couple of months later the FDA approved Prozac).

With the stock market crash looming around the corner and the economy soon to be on everyone’s minds, the CIRP Freshman Survey asked students in the fall of 1987 about their views on finances and concerns about the cost of college. Three quarters (75.6%) of incoming students stated that being very well off financially was a “very important” or “essential” goal. When parsed out by gender, being well off financially was more important to men than women. About four out of ten men (39.6%) compared to only three out of ten women (29.5%) considered this goal as being “essential.”

Believing that college is a path to financial stability and mobility, most incoming students (69.4%) “agreed strongly” or “agreed somewhat” that “the chief benefit of a college education is that it increases one’s earning power.” That being said, it makes sense that seven out of ten (71.3%) students indicated being able to make more money was a “very important” reason for attending college. The gender gap here was less noticeable, with 74.8% of men compared to 68.2% of women expressing this sentiment.

Finances also played a role in college choice for this incoming class, certainly a top issue that continues (and often dominates) college choice today. About one out of five students stated their college’s low tuition (20.9%) and/or their offer of financial assistance (20.2%) was a “very important” reason for choosing their college. Further, half of the incoming students expressed concern about financing their college education, with 49.0% having “some” concerns and 13.8% having “major” concerns. However, the financial aid offer did not dominate their decision-making process. Of the students who were not attending their first-choice college, only 9.3% of students stated not being offered aid by their first choice college was a “very important” reason for attending their current college. This number has increased significantly in recent years.

Did you know? 27.2% of incoming freshmen could use a sewing machine “well.”

33.7% of incoming freshmen wanted to learn how to sight-read piano music.

24.6% of incoming freshmen could describe the difference between stocks and bonds “well.”

1986: Incoming Students' Civic Engagement Amidst Hands Across America and the Chernobyl Disaster

Posted by Jen Berdan Lozano on July 7th, 2015 in News, News Homepage, Uncategorized | Comments Off

May 25th, 1986, Hands Across America at Eakins Oval along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

January 1986 kicked off with the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears beating the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX. The Statue of Liberty celebrated its centennial. The European Economic Community, later to be known as the European Union, got a little bigger with the addition of Spain and Portugal. Tragedy struck the U.S. with the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger a mere seventy-three seconds after launching. The country mourned all seven crew members including Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher who won a contest to become the first American civilian to travel into space.

This year was also one of major advances in technology. IBM introduced mobile computing when they released the first laptop; Microsoft went public selling their shares on the stock market making thousands of millionaires; and Eric Thomas created LISTSERV automating and making mass emails easier than ever. In entertainment news, Top Gun rocked the box office becoming the highest grossing film of the year, and its accompanying soundtrack settled in at number one on the Billboard Hot 200 albums for five consecutive weeks; the Oprah Winfrey Show was broadcast nationally for the first time; and Phantom of the Opera debuted in London at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Multiple cover-ups of environmental disasters were attempted. The Soviets tried to conceal the disastrous meltdown at the Chernobyl power plant in the Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union), but when more than fifty tons of radioactive material were released into the atmosphere, several times that of an atomic bomb, Swedish monitoring stations detected the increased radiation almost a thousand miles away. Five thousand people were estimated to have died, eventually succumbing to the effects of that radiation in addition to the destruction of millions of acres of forest and farmland. In the Atlantic, the cargo ship Khian Seas wandered for 16 months looking for a place to dump 14,000 tons of ash from waste incinerators in Philadelphia. In the following years four thousand tons were dumped off the coast of Haiti and the rest in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Even multiple name changes to the ship over the course of the dumping couldn’t protect it and its crew from hiding the incident.

In an effort to battle poverty, millions of people joined hands to form “Hands Across America,” a benefit to fight hunger and homelessness. A grassroots movement was also sparked to ban smoking on airplanes, supported by a National Academy of Sciences publication that highlighted the high levels of smoke to which flight attendants were exposed. Gauging the pulse of American freshmen on civic engagement, the CIRP Freshman Survey asked questions related to volunteer work and participating in protests. In 1986, over half (52.9%) of incoming freshmen had volunteered “occasionally” during their last year of high school and 16.5% had volunteered “frequently.” Women were more likely to volunteer frequently. Almost one-fifth (19.5%) of female students stated that they volunteered “frequently” compared to only 13.1% of male students.

Foreseeing future civic actions, over a quarter (28.1%) of incoming students predicted either “some chance” or a “very good chance” that they will participate in student protests or demonstrations. Most students also indicated the importance of having the goal of participating in a community action program, with 18.5% stating participating as being “very important” or “essential,” and another 53.4% stating the goal as “somewhat important.” Possibly with environmental disasters on their minds, roughly the same percentage of students valued becoming involved in programs to clean up the environment. About 16% (15.9%) of incoming students stated this as a “very important” or “essential” goal and over half (53.3%) stated helping the environment as a “somewhat important” goal.

These incoming students are also critical of the federal government, the majority agreeing that the government is not doing enough to control environmental pollution. About half (50.5%) “agreed somewhat” and over a quarter (27.5%) agreed strongly that the feds weren’t doing enough. As the environment continues to be at the top of current issues, this sentiment persists today with incoming students. In 2014, over two-thirds (67.1%) of freshmen stated that the federal government should be doing more to address global climate change.

Did you know? 76.5% of incoming freshmen in 1986 stayed up all night “frequently” or “occasionally” their last year of high school.

Of the incoming students in 1986, 14.6% “agreed somewhat” and 5.8% “agreed strongly” that “the activities of married women are best confined to the home and family.”

When asked what contributed to students’ decisions to go to college, 9.4% stated that wanting to get away from home was “very important.”

1985: Nuclear Disarmament in a World of Perestroika: Incoming Freshmen's Opinions

Posted by Lesley McBain on July 1st, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

1985 blog

(Credit: Concorde supersonic aircraft in flight; taken by Adrian Pingstone on 26th November 2003 and placed in the public domain.)

Ronald Reagan was sworn in for his second term as president. A star-studded lineup of rock musicians in Philadelphia and London put on Live Aid, a 16-hour concert to benefit African famine victims. Phil Collins managed to perform at both concerts in the U.K. and the U.S. on the same day by taking the since-retired supersonic passenger jet, the Concorde, from London to Philadelphia.

In other international news, Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in Russia after the death of Konstantin Chernenko. Upon his assumption of power, Gorbachev began to enact perestroika , which restructured the Soviet Union not only economically, but politically and socially. Meanwhile, the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro and its 400 passengers were hijacked by Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists who executed an elderly wheelchair-bound  Jewish American tourist. That same year, a TWA airliner was also hijacked by Hezbollah terrorists demanding first the names of those who sounded Jewish on board, then diplomats and Americans; the hijackers identified and tortured a group of U.S. Navy Seabees aboard, executing one.

This political upheaval meant the issue of nuclear weapons and disarmament loomed large around the world. Not only did Gorbachev make reducing nuclear arms in the Soviet Union one of his priorities, but he and Reagan met at a Geneva summit partly focusing on nuclear arms control. With this atmosphere in mind, incoming freshmen were asked not only questions about their view of society as a whole, but several questions relating to nuclear weapons and disarmament in the 1985 version of the CIRP Freshman Survey.

A general view with which respondents were asked to indicate their agreement or disagreement was “Realistically, an individual person can do little to bring about changes in our society.” Overall, 65.2% of respondents disagreed either “somewhat” or “strongly” with this statement. Only 6.9% of respondents agreed “strongly.” When broken down by gender, 62.7% of male students and 68.5% of female students disagreed either “somewhat” or “strongly.” A total of 7.6% of male students and 5.6% of female students agreed “strongly.”

When asked their reaction to the statement “Nuclear disarmament is attainable,” their optimism faded somewhat. While 54.3% agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly,” only 19.3% agreed “strongly.” Meanwhile, 46.5% disagreed either “somewhat” or “strongly,” of which 16.8% disagreed “strongly.” This varied slightly by gender. A greater percentage of male students (49.6%) disagreed either “somewhat” or “strongly” with the statement that nuclear disarmament was attainable than female students (41.6%). Incoming freshmen’s self-identified political viewpoints and reactions were related; 67.2% of students identifying as far right politically disagreed either “somewhat” or “strongly” with the statement that nuclear disarmament was attainable compared to 57.4% of those identifying as politically conservative, 43.7% identifying as politically middle-of-the-road, 37.7% identifying as liberal, and 34.6% identifying as far left.

However, incoming freshmen largely agreed with the statement “The Federal government is not doing enough to promote disarmament”; a total of 67.9% agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly.” When broken down by gender, 75.9% of female students agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly,”15.9 percentage points higher than the 60% of male students who agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly.” Students’ responses also varied by political affiliation. For instance, 78.4% of incoming freshmen who identified as politically far left agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly” that the federal government was not doing enough to promote disarmament, whereas only 32.9% of those incoming freshmen who identified as politically far right agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly.”

While no survey can completely capture the Zeitgeist of a given era or individual year, these responses highlight a dual optimism and pessimism among many freshmen who entered college in 1985 about nuclear disarmament, an issue still debated by the international community today.

Did you know?: 25.9% of entering college freshmen in 1985 thought it “very important” in their choice of college that “This college has a good reputation for its social activities.”

28% of entering college freshmen in 1985 considered “Becoming an authority in my field” as an “essential” career goal.

59.6% of entering college freshmen in 1985 agreed either “strongly” or “somewhat” with the statement “The Federal government is not doing enough to protect the consumer from faulty goods and services.”


1984: Incoming Freshmen's Computer Knowledge the Year Macintosh Computers Were Born

Posted by Lesley McBain on June 24th, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

1984 blog

Olympic Gateway on UCLA campus, photo credit UCLA)

This was the year made infamous by the George Orwell dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (published in 1949). It was also an Olympic year in which UCLA took part in the Los Angeles hosting of the Summer Olympics. The 1984 Summer Olympics were not only the first privately financed Games ever (raising a $225 million surplus) but were boycotted by Russia and 13 Soviet allies in retaliation for the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games. UCLA athletes won 37 medals. In non-Olympic news, Ronald Reagan was re-elected President. Top-selling album releases included Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. (the title track of which was famously misunderstood by the Reagan campaign, much to Springsteen’s displeasure), Prince’s Purple Rain, Michael Jackson’s Thriller (for the second consecutive year) and the soundtrack to Footloose. U2 and R.E.M. also released albums; punk and alternative releases included those from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Hüsker Dü, and Black Flag.

And, in the world of science and technology, not only did the U.S. Supreme Court rule that taping television shows on video cassette recorders for home viewing did not violate copyright law, but Apple introduced the first Macintosh computer. Notably, Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA) was the first member of the Apple University Consortium to require all entering freshmen to purchase Macs. So how interested in studying computers and technology were the incoming college freshmen of 1984, three years after the first personal computer was introduced and the year the Mac was born?

The Freshman Survey asked a number of questions measuring entering students’ interest in and prior experience with science and technology, some of which were computer-specific and some of which were more general. Specific questions about computers asked incoming freshmen about their having written a computer program or taken a computer-assisted course in the past year as well as how many years they had studied computer science in high school.

Overall, 27.7% of respondents had “frequently” written a computer program in the past year, 28.3% had “occasionally” done so, and 44% responded “not at all.” When examined by gender, 32% of male students and 23.7% of female students had “frequently” written a computer program in the past year; 31.6% of male students and 25.4% of female students had “occasionally” done so; 36.4% of male students and 50.9% of female students responded “not at all.” The gender gap is most prominent in the category of “not at all,” with a 14.5 percentage point difference between female and male students.

The majority of incoming freshmen (58%) had never taken a computer-assisted course in high school; 22.1% had done so “occasionally,” and 19.9% had done so “frequently.” When asked the number of years they had studied computer science in high school, 42.6% reported not having studied it at all; 26.8% reported having studied it for one year; 23.6% reported having studied it for half a year. Only 5.6% reported having studied computer science for two years; 1% had studied it for three years.

This seems to have been reflected in entering freshmen’s opinions regarding their probable college majors and careers. At the time, the answer options offered to respondents related to computers fell into either “computer science” or “data processing or computer programming.” Only 3% of respondents indicated their probable major would be “computer science”; 1.5% of respondents indicated their probable major would be “data processing or computer programming.” Of the probable computer science majors, 61.3% were male and 38.7% female; of the probable data processing or computer programming majors, 62.8% were male and 37.2% female. When looking at students’ projected careers,  only 4.6% of respondents planned to be computer programmers or analysts.

In a testament to how times have changed both for CIRP’s assessment of incoming freshmen’s experience and with and interest in studying computers, 31 years after these entering freshmen were surveyed, Apple has launched a watch housing computer apps and 79.2% of incoming freshmen in 2013 rated their computer skills either “average” or “above average.” But back in 1984, these technological leaps had yet to be made. Video cassette recorders, after all, were still the big thing.

Did you know?: 71.6% of incoming college freshmen in 1984 reported that in the past year, they had not overslept and missed a class or an appointment.

57.1% of incoming college freshmen in 1984 thought there was either “some” or a “very good chance” that they would change their career choice.

1983: Incoming Freshmen's Environmental Concerns in an Uncertain Year

Posted by Lesley McBain on June 16th, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

1983 Blog

Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, aboard the space shuttle Challenger (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration - Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

1983 was marked by geopolitical upheaval and technological invention alike. President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an evil empire, inflaming already tense U.S./USSR relations. The Soviet Union, meanwhile, tracked and shot down a South Korean 747 that had strayed into its airspace, killing all aboard. The falling of the Berlin Wall reunited East and West Germany for the first time since 1945. A terrorist attack in Lebanon carried out by a Hezbollah suicide bomber killed 220 U.S. Marines and 21 other service personnel.  The space shuttle Challenger made a successful first voyage, featuring both the first U.S. female astronaut, the late Dr. Sally Ride, and the first U.S. space walk in nine years. (Challenger tragically exploded after liftoff in 1986.)

Other upheavals occurred in arts and music. Compact discs were introduced and began to shoulder vinyl records to the side. Singer Karen Carpenter died from anorexia-related complications, bringing eating disorders into the public spotlight for the first time.  M*A*S*H’s final episode aired and still holds the record for most-watched TV series finale. The ABC TV-movie The Day After, a controversial apocalyptic depiction of the aftermath of a U.S.-Russia nuclear exchange , was shot at and around the University of Kansas to make the point that nowhere—not even part of what many considered the quintessential American heartland—was safe from nuclear war.

College freshmen taking The Freshman Survey in 1983 were also concerned about less overwhelming environmental issues. When asked their opinion of “The Federal government is not doing enough to control environmental pollution,” 81.4% overall agreed either “strongly” or “somewhat,” with 30.9% agreeing “strongly.” The survey also measured respondents’ level of agreement with the statement “The Federal government should do more to discourage energy consumption.” Overall, 77.5% agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly” with this statement, with 59.5% agreeing “somewhat.”

When breaking down responses to “The Federal government is not doing enough to control environmental pollution” by gender, male and female students’ answers were extremely similar in the “agree strongly” category (respectively 31% and 30.7%); of the few who disagreed “strongly,” 3.1% were male and 1.4% female. The same pattern held true when analyzing responses to “The Federal government should do more to discourage energy consumption” by gender. A total of 15.6% of males and 18.5% of females agreed “strongly”; 3.8% of males and 2.3% of females disagreed “strongly.”

Opinions differed somewhat along self-identified political affiliation. A total of 84.3% of students identifying as far left politically agreed either “strongly” or “somewhat” that the government was not doing enough to control environmental pollution; on the opposite end of the political spectrum, 58.8% of students identifying as far right also agreed either “strongly” or “somewhat” with the statement. When asked whether the federal government should do more to discourage energy consumption, 76.2% of students identifying as far left politically agreed either “strongly” or “somewhat.” This was also true for 61.3% of students identifying as far right.

Opinions that the federal government was not doing enough to protect the environment also held true across geographic regions. For instance, 83.2% of students in the East, 79.9% of students in the Midwest, 79.5% of students in the South, and 80.8% of students in the West agreed either “strongly” or “somewhat” that the government was not doing enough to control environmental pollution.

This convergence of opinion regarding the need for the federal government to do more work on controlling environmental pollution and discouraging energy consumption is striking because it cuts across gender, political, and regional differences between students at a time when President Ronald Reagan and many other politicians advocated strongly for a limited government and less federal regulation. Yet TFS freshmen respondents in 1983, according to the data, were looking for the federal government to do more to protect the environment they shared with those limited-government advocates.

Did you know?:  Only 8.1% of 1983 freshmen respondents rated themselves as “above average” when asked about their “popularity with the opposite sex”; 52.4% rated themselves as “below average” and 35% rated themselves “average.”

34.5% of freshmen students in 1983 planned to earn a master’s degree as their highest academic degree.

36.8% of responding freshmen in 1983 considered going to college to “make me a more cultured person” a “very important” reason to attend.

1982: Women's Rights and the ERA

Posted by Lesley McBain on June 9th, 2015 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

Read the rest of this entry »

1981: Incoming Freshmen's Attitudes Toward Homosexuality in the Shadow of AIDS

Posted by Lesley McBain on June 2nd, 2015 in News, News Homepage, Research, Surveys | Comments Off

1981 Blog

Chaos outside the Washington Hilton Hotel after the assassination attempt on President Reagan, credit National Archives and Records Administration)

MTV launched on August 1, playing its first video, “Video Killed the Radio Star” (The Buggles) and nine other music videos. The first personal computer—not the first Macintosh—was introduced. In world and national politics, Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Israeli prime minister Menachim Begin for agreeing to the Camp David Accords brokered by Jimmy Carter, was assassinated by Egyptian extremists. Iran agreed to free the U.S. hostages who had been held by Iranian revolutionaries since 1979, but timed their release for moments after Ronald Reagan took office as President of the United States in January 1981. In March, an an assassination attempt seriously wounded Reagan and three others. Reagan later nominated Sandra Day O’Connor as the first female Supreme Court justice.

Also, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was first identified. The first U.S. cases predominantly occurred among gay men. Unfortunately, this led to “AIDS hysteria” manifesting in rampant homophobia; in fact, some public responses to recent Ebola outbreaks have been compared to reactions in the early days of AIDS. Given the fear-driven attitude directed at AIDS victims across the country, what were first-year college students’ attitudes toward gay rights in 1981? The CIRP Freshman Survey measured one aspect of this by requesting that respondents indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with the statement “It is important to have laws prohibiting homosexual relationships.” A total of 57.6% disagreed either “somewhat” or “strongly,” with 23.5% disagreeing “strongly.” However, 42.4% of respondents agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly,” with 19.4% agreeing “strongly.” It should be noted that the survey did not ask students about their sexual orientation at that time.

Delving into the data by respondents’ self-professed religious preferences yields a range of viewpoints. In 1981 the CIRP data on religious preferences were not as granular as today, so the only religious categories available to examine are “Protestant,” “Roman Catholic,” “Jewish,” “none,” and “other” with a separate question asking if students considered themselves born-again Christians. While many respondents rejected the idea that having laws prohibiting homosexual relationships was important—80% of Jewish respondents, 75.3% of respondents with no religious affiliation, 57.9% of Roman Catholic respondents, and 53% of Protestant respondents disagreed either “strongly” or “somewhat” with the idea—not all did so. Of those students who considered themselves born-again Christians, a total of 59.1% agreed either “strongly” or “somewhat.”

When examined by gender, a slight majority (51.5%) of male students agreed either “strongly” or “somewhat” with the importance of there being laws prohibiting homosexual relationships, compared to only 34.3% of female students. Only 17.9% of male students disagreed “strongly” with the idea, as opposed to 28.6% of female students. Analyzing the data by self-described political affiliation yielded differences as well. For instance, those who characterized their political views as far-right predominantly agreed that it was important to have laws prohibiting homosexual activities; 57.7% agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly” with the idea. Of those, 38.4% agreed “strongly.” Of those who characterized their political views as conservative, 50.9% agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly” with the idea; of those, 26.1% agreed “strongly.” However, even some first-year students on the other side of the political spectrum agreed with the importance of laws prohibiting homosexual activities. A total of 30.8% of students identifying as politically liberal agreed either “somewhat” or “strongly” with the idea, with 14.2% agreeing “strongly.”

The mixed data presented here bear witness to students’ conflicting attitudes toward at least one aspect of gay rights in 1981. However, over the decades the CIRP Freshman Survey has moved from asking about laws prohibiting same-sex relationships to not only asking students their sexual orientation, but soliciting their opinion on views such as “Same-sex couples should have the right to legal marital status” (2015) and “Gays and lesbians should have the right to adopt a child” (2013); in 2013, 83.3% of incoming freshmen supported this right.

Did you know?: 64.2% of incoming freshmen respondents in 1981 agreed “strongly” that “College graduates should be able to demonstrate some minimal competency in written English and mathematics.”

76.7% of incoming freshmen in 1981 disagreed either “somewhat” or “strongly” with “College officials have the right to ban persons with extreme views from speaking on campus.”

1980: In a Time of World Conflict, College Freshmen's Views on Reviving the Draft

Posted by Lesley McBain on May 20th, 2015 in News, News Homepage, Research, Surveys | Comments Off

1980 Blog

The US Olympic men's hockey team Miracle on Ice on a Paraguayan postage stamp, public domain)

Jimmy Carter was still president, mired in the ongoing Iranian hostage crisis and an aborted raid to resolve it that ended in catastrophe. (Carter was defeated in November 1980 by Ronald Reagan in a Republican landslide.) America led a boycott of the Summer Olympics held in Moscow — the first Olympics held in a Communist country — over the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Later in the Winter Olympics, the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team pulled off the “Miracle on Ice” in Lake Placid, NY, beating the heavily favored USSR team for the gold medal. In New York City, John Lennon was murdered in front of his apartment building.  And Ted Turner launched CNN to capitalize on the public’s appetite for news as the Iran-Iraq War began.

Given the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and concerns about U.S. troop strength, President Carter reactivated the requirement that American men between 18 and 25 register for Selective Service, otherwise known as the draft. A companion recommendation to Congress was that Section 811 of the Department of Defense Authorization Act of 1980 be amended to “provide presidential authority to register, classify, and examine women for service in the Armed Forces” for the first time in history. Moreover, several men filed court challenges to the Selective Service Act because it excluded women.

How did students entering college in 1980—the majority of whom were of age to register for Selective Service—feel about this issue? Particularly since only 1.3% of respondents indicated future plans for military service as a voluntary career choice and thus a draft, if carried out, would potentially alter the majority of respondents’ self-reported career futures?

When asked to rate their agreement or disagreement with the statement “Women should be selected to the draft,” 56.3%, a slight majority, chose “agree somewhat” or “agree strongly.” Of those who chose “disagree somewhat” or “disagree strongly” (43.8%), 21.6% chose “disagree somewhat” and 22.2% chose “disagree strongly,” with only a 0.6 percentage point difference separating them.

When broken down by gender, more males (32.6%) than females (11.7%) strongly agreed that women should be selected for the draft; conversely, more females (31.6%) than males (12.2%) strongly disagreed that women should be selected for the draft. Political views, surprisingly, were less monolithic on the subject. Of those students who identified as far right politically, 53.1% agreed somewhat or strongly that women should be selected for the draft. Among students who identified as far left politically, 56% agreed somewhat or strongly that women should be selected for the draft.

However, gender differences appeared within political categories. For instance, 25.8% of male students identifying as far right politically disagreed strongly that women should be selected for the draft, compared to 47.7% of female students identifying as far right politically. Of those identifying as far left politically, 17.8% of male students disagreed strongly that women should be selected for the draft versus 43.4% of female students.

Nuances also appeared when analyzing responses in light of other questions about students’ views on social roles for women. For instance, of those who disagreed strongly with the view that women should be selected for the draft, only 2.2% also disagreed strongly with the view that “women should receive the same salary and opportunities for advancement as men in comparable positions.” By contrast, 76.3% of those who disagreed strongly that women should be selected for the draft agreed strongly that “women should receive the same salary and opportunities for advancement as men in comparable positions.”

As can be seen by the partial data presented, the issue of women and the draft was complex for 1980’s first-year students, set against a backdrop of the beginnings of the 1980s phase of the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia and world turbulence elsewhere.

Did you know?: 72.8% of college entering freshmen in 1980 agreed either strongly or somewhat that “faculty promotions should be based in part on student evaluations.”