Looking for Balance on Campus? Head South


In an age of canceled college speakers and political indoctrination in K-12 schools, I am often asked where college students can go to be exposed to real viewpoint diversity and avoid a liberal monoculture.

The blunt truth is that aside from a handful of schools, few colleges have avoided the progressive wave on campuses across the country. But while progressives make a lot of noise, their hold on higher education is not geographically uniform. Today, our Southern schools remain places where Gen Z Americans – those currently in high school and college – can go to find the greatest number of politically open-minded students.

It’s important to note that our nation’s college students are not uniformly Democratic. National data from College Pulse shows that 37% of college students identify as strong or weak Democrats while another 11% identify as strong or weak Republicans. Fifty-three percent are Independents, lean a bit to the left or right, or are something else entirely. While there may not be partisan parity, lots of college students are not yet set in their political identity.

Students in search of a diversity of opinion should be wary of Mid-Atlantic schools, where the majority of students (51%) identify as Democrats, with just 9% calling themselves Republicans and another 41% classed as Independents, leaners, or something else. New England schools have a majority (48%) of Democratic-identifying students and a minority (10%) of Republicans. Southern schools, by contrast, show the greatest degree of partisan centrism. Over half of students in Southern schools (55%) are Independents, leaners, or something else, while a little over a third (34%) are Democrats and 10% are Republicans.

Students in the South are more likely (61%) than students in most other regions to say that neither major party represents their interests and outlook particularly well. That figure is a bit higher in the West at 63%, while 59% in the Midwest feel the same way. Compared to other regions, the South is in the upper cluster. In sharp contrast, New England students answer differently; 39% like the Democratic Party, while just 50% say that no party represents their interests. Many students in New England are unhappy with the status quo, but their disaffection numbers are notably lower than those of students in the South.

However, it’s important to note that Southern students are in no way politically disengaged or apathetic. Sixty-four percent of Southern students report engaging with politics – a number comparable with rates in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and West. The number is a bit higher for students in New England (69%).

Read the rest at Real Clear Education.

Samuel J. Abrams is professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Photo credit: Revolt via Unsplash under CC 4.0 License.