In the age of Trump, the college campus has become a preeminent battleground for political activism.
Americans have gawked at violent anti-Trump protests, uninvited speakers and “triggerings” happening with daily regularity in schoolyards from coast to coast.
One introspective group of students at Dartmouth College set out to gauge the political temperature of their campus and find out how truly tolerant their fellow students truly are. A poll conducted by The Dartmouth, the campus newspaper, asked political questions of current students on the campus.
One of their findings revealed something really interesting.
The poll asked Republican, independent and Democrat students about their “comfort” levels with having a roommate from a different political perspective. Of the self-identified Democrats who answered the question, nearly half said they would be “uncomfortable” rooming with someone of different political opinions. 45% of Democrats were uncomfortable rooming with someone of differing political views whereas only 12% of Republicans said the same.
Nearly 70% of Republicans say they would be “comfortable” with a liberal roommate compared to 39% of Democrats who would be comfortable with a roommate who held opposing political views.
The findings should be worrisome to any Democrats claiming the mantle of tolerance on campus. It certainly was troubling to the students conducting the poll. From the Dartmouth write up of the findings:
Image Credit: David Becker/Getty Images
President of Dartmouth College Democrats Charlie Blatt ’18 said she was not surprised that most Republicans reported they were comfortable with having a Democratic roommate, given that a majority of students at the College are Democrats.
“It’s unfortunate — I wish we had more political diversity,” she said. “I think the dialogue is good.”
Vice president of the Dartmouth College Republicans Abraham Herrera ’18 echoed Blatt’s sentiment, saying that since Republicans are a minority on campus, they will end up with a roommate of opposing political views the majority of the time.
Herrera said he was surprised by the large number of Republicans and the lack of Democrats that were comfortable with an out-party roommate.
The poll also, not surprisingly, found that Trump’s job approval on campus was well below the national average. Only 5% of respondents said they ‘strongly’ approve of his actions as president. Zero percent of Democrats said they approved at all.
While the findings are not completely unexpected in today’s hyper-partisan media environment, they do demonstrate how campus cultures of tolerance and acceptance do not always play out when the rubber hits the road.
According to the study, the poll was taken by 432 students, 63 percent of which were Democrat, 23 percent were Republican and 14 percent were independent.