A survey conducted through North Dakota State University recently found that the majority of students who identify as liberal view socialism in a positive light.
The “American College Student Freedom, Progress and Flourishing Survey” is conducted annually by NDSU’s Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth. The survey examines student perceptions about viewpoint diversity and speech regulation, and looks at how college is shaping their political worldviews.
The 2021 survey asked more than 400,000 students from over 1,000 colleges and universities across the U.S. about their opinions on a variety of issues, including the First Amendment, socialism, the campus political climate, and more.
Fifty-seven percent of liberal-identifying students in the survey answered “no” to the question “are you proud to be an American?” while 73% of conservative-identifying students answered “yes” to the same question.
John Bitzan and Clay Routledge, NDSU professors responsible for the survey’s design, explained that “this is a surprising result.” Their past work and data showed that most “Americans are proud to be American, regardless of political party, gender, race, religion, income, or employment status,” they said.
The survey also examined student definitions and opinions of socialism. Conservative students define socialism as “central planning and the collective ownership of property,” while liberal students define it as “heavy redistribution and active government.” When referring to the latter definition, only 10% of conservative students said they view it positively, compared to almost 60% of liberal students.
The majority — a whopping 81% — of liberal-identifying students feel that their college education is helping them develop a more accurate worldview, while only 44% of conservative-identifying students believe this.
Fifty-five percent of liberal-identifying students in the survey expressed that their classes and collegiate activities have led to a more negative view of the United States. Only 32% of conservative-identifying students have a more negative view of the U.S. as a result of their college experiences.
Survey designers Bitzan and Routledge believe, based on the results of their 2021 survey, it is clear that “colleges and universities can do a better job in educating students on progress that has been made” in the U.S. while creating an environment “that is open to a competition of ideas.”
Megan Olson is a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and history. She works in public affairs in addition to serving on the Legislative Advisory Council for School District 196. She is also on the school board for FIT academy, a charter school in Apple Valley.