Survey finds shift to right-wing politics on college campuses after Sept. 11

Posted 6:00 p.m. Feb. 12

By Patrick W. Higgins
U-WIRE (DC BUREAU)

(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – An unprecedented swing to right-wing politics on college campuses is the direct result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a recently published survey claims.

Seventy-five percent of American college students approve of President George W. Bush and support his plans for strengthening the military, according to a new study released by the Independent Women’s Forum last week.

The study was aimed at gauging student reactions to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., and reported 96 percent of college students feel “changed” since that time.

A strong military is “extremely important” to 80 percent of the 600 students from 300 college campuses who were included in the survey.

The results were released just two weeks after Bush asked Congress to pass the largest defense spending increase in two decades during his State of the Union Address on Jan. 29.

The surge in conservative politics on campuses is a distinct difference from a study released by the Higher Education Research Institute at University of California-Los Angeles two weeks ago, indicating 29.9 percent of students claimed to be leftists, the largest number in two decades. The UCLA study was compiled before Sept. 11.

Whether or not this shift to Republican ideas on campuses nationwide will be permanent, Margaret Carroll, a spokeswomen for the IWF said, “It is really too soon to tell.”

Of those polled, only 18 percent said they wish Al Gore was in office, with 65 percent of students content with Bush’s victory in the disputed 2000 presidential election.

“Look at stats: The majority of students are leftists, and the fact that they are happy that Bush won as opposed to Gore says a lot,” Carroll said. “I think that sentiment will last throughout his presidency.”

Patriotism is also on the rise, with 60 percent of students classifying national pride as “very” or “extremely” important.

Religious activity has rebounded as a result of the attacks, according to the report, with 32 percent of students admitting to praying on a more frequent basis, a sharp contrast to the 9.2 percent increase over the past half-century in those who claim no religious affiliation, as reported by UCLA.

“After Sept. 11, I think most people look to God more to help rationalize what happened,” Carroll said.

Racial profiling as a means of combating terrorism was mostly rejected by students, with 60 percent denouncing the use of stereotyping against people of Middle Eastern descent.

Opinions on the two most prominent issues facing the nation, according to students the recession and the war on terror, split down gender lines.

Men demonstrated a greater concern about the economy than women by almost a 2-to-1 ratio (29 percent to 17 percent), but 72 percent of students remained confident they will obtain a job within three months of graduation.

Thirty percent of female students and 15 percent of male students identified terrorism as the country’s most formidable opponent.

The study was conducted by the Tarrance Group for the IWF, a nonprofit educational organization that strives to “affirm women’s participation in and contributions to a free, self-governing society,” according to its mission statement.

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