Leopards politically diverse
Posted Feb. 29, 2008

As the primary season continues, students, faculty and staff from campuses across the nation continue to have varying views when it comes to politics, and the University of La Verne is no exception.

Following the model of two recent Harvard studies that compared student political views and faculty political views, the Campus Times conducted a similar survey at ULV. The survey of 25 people included students, staff and faculty; it found that 44 percent identified themselves as liberal, 8 percent were conservative, 16 percent were moderate and 32 percent considered themselves to be independent.

When asked what they thought the University of La Verne represented as a whole, the majority considered La Verne to be liberal.

“I believe that the University is more liberal, especially due to the fact that it is a liberal arts college,” Elizabeth Keagy, vice president of finance for the Associated Students of ULV, said.

“I think we’re divided. We’re sort of half and half,” Debbie Roberts, campus minister and director of peace studies said. “We are more between progressive, liberal and conservative.”

In comparison, as statisticians were dutifully gearing up to calculate who the nation would be leaning towards in the upcoming elections, Harvard University’s Institute of Politics released its “Fall 2007 Survey on Politics and Public Service.”

The survey polled over 2,500 people between the ages of 18-24 on various aspects of the political process including college students who were asked to identify which political lean they represented in one of seven categories, from extremely liberal to extremely conservative.

They found that 77 percent of college students were registered voters, and when it came to most political issues about 34 percent said they considered themselves to be liberals, 19 percent considered themselves to be conservative and 17 percent of college students found themselves tobe moderate.

“I would agree with the survey results because I claim the Democratic Party,” Matt White, junior public administration major said. “But it seems that students are more moderate while faculty I have encountered are more liberal.”

“ULV students are probably more liberal. I think that I fall right in between because I am free in thinking but I also wish not to exceed moral boundaries based on Christianity and instinct,” said Amber Howard, senior speech communications major.

“I believe I am between conservative and moderate,” Keagy said.
Keagy also recognized the fact that the University has a conservative background due to its ties to the Church of the Brethren yet still has not met too many conservatives on campus.

In comparison to the student survey, Neil Gross, assistant professor of sociology at Harvard and Solon Simmons, an assistant professor of conflict analysis and sociology at George Mason University conducted a study on the political orientations of faculty members in their fall 2007 survey, “The Social and Political Views of American Professors.”

This study analyzed the political views of 1,417 full-time faculty members from various institutions including four year and liberal arts institutions.

The survey also asked professors to identify themselves in the same categories as the students were in the Harvard survey, identifying themselves, from extremely liberal to extremely conservative.

The results showed that at liberal arts colleges 61 percent of those professors surveyed considered themselves to be liberals, 3.9 percent considered themselves to be conservatives and 35.1 percent were considered moderate.

“I would say that I am a progressive,” Roberts said. “I think that my religious affiliation in a peace church and the way I understand Christianity as a call to want for your neighbors as you would want for yourself has influenced my beliefs.”

Lisa Rodriguez, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning and assistant professor is a liberal who believes that overall there is a spectrum when it comes to political views of ULV faculty.

She says they are good decent people who she has found she can get along with regardless of their political views.

As the primary season continues no matter what party affiliation or political lean, voters across the nation will continue to make history, including those youth voters who take advantage of the political process and vote.

To find out more information about Harvard University’s Institute of Politics and other research conducted, visit http://www.iop.harvard.edu.

Francine Gobert can be reached at fgobert@ulv.edu.

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