I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the CIRP Freshman Survey findings tend to be very aligned with national topics of conversation and debate. Sure, we think about which data will most newsworthy when we sift through our mountain of data and decide what to highlight every year in our press release. But the data is the data and this year we saw a significant shift in student’s social and political views. Now, it also happens to be election year.
Rather than cast it as coincidence, I think it speaks more to the fact that students have their pulse on what’s going on in the world. It also points to how malleable they are—in a good way. Many of us are set in our ways but students seem to be open to welcoming new perspectives and even changing their minds. It will be interesting to see if their changing views have any effect on the political outcomes this year.
This year, we also highlighted the fact that more students across different political parties are supporting same sex marriage. And now, less than two weeks after the survey release, we heard that Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban, was deemed unconstitutional. This is big news for the state of same-sex marriage in California and it happened to coincide with one of the key findings of this year’s survey. Again, we see students’ values being reflected in the national conversation—this time, on gay rights.
Perhaps we don’t give students (or young people, in general) enough credit for shaping national trends in the way we think and view the world?
What do you think?