The Corner

Peers, Not Profs

Now this is interesting:

On issues such as abortion, gay marriage and religion, college students shift noticeably to the left from the time they arrive on campus through their junior year, new research shows.

The reason, according to UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, isn’t indoctrination by left-leaning faculty but rather the more powerful influence of fellow students. And at most colleges, left-leaning peer groups are more common than conservative ones.

After college, students — particularly women — move somewhat back to the right politically.

The research is the latest of several efforts by academics to lend analytical rigor to an emotional debate. Overall, college faculty lean left politically, but there’s sharp disagreement on whether they impose their views on students. The UCLA researchers are among several social scientists who have tried to undermine the argument that students respond strongly to their teachers’ opinions.

Overall, students were nearly as likely after three years of college to call themselves “conservative” or “far-right,” according to findings, and only somewhat more likely to call themselves “liberal” or “far left.”

Me: This reminds me of an old argument I had with Derb around here about the role of parents. Derb (simplifying mightily) said fathers don’t matter. I said they do. I think professors matter too. But we can get into the weeds on this another time.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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