Incoming College Students More Liberal on Hot-button Political, Social Issues, Annual Survey Finds

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

First-year college students' political and social views shifted in a more liberal direction in 2011, according to the CIRP Freshman Survey, UCLA's annual survey of the nation's entering students at four-year colleges and universities. Notable changes were seen in student views on same-sex marriage, affirmative action and access to higher education for undocumented students.

The survey, part of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), is administered nationally by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies.

An unprecedented 71.3 percent of incoming college students indicated that same-sex couples should have the right to legal marital status, compared with 64.9 percent in 2009, a remarkable 6.4 percentage-point increase over a two-year period. While support for same-sex marriage is highest among female students and those who identify as liberal, a significant amount of conservative students (42.8 percent) and an increasing number of male students(64.1 percent in 2011 vs. 56.7 percent in 2009) expressed support for this issue.

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