Both Emory and private university freshmen seem to be more liberal than the national group. For example, freshmen at Emory and at private universities are more interested in keeping up with politics than the national group (Emory, 54 percent; private universities, 48 percent; national group, 32 percent); and 40 percent of Emory freshmen and 43 percent of private university freshmen consider themselves "middle of the road," compared with 53 percent nationally. Forty-three percent of Emory freshmen and 33 percent of private university freshmen think that marijuana should be legalized, compared with 32 percent nationally. As these findings suggest, Emory and private university freshmen are more likely to consider themselves liberal or far left (40 percent and 30 percent respectively versus 25 percent nationally). Although Emory freshmen are less likely than the national group to consider themselves conservative or far right (20 percent versus 22 percent), a larger portion of freshmen at private universities rate themselves conservative or far right (28 percent).
About one-fourth of Emory and private university freshmen support abolishing the death penalty, while one-fifth of all freshmen support this view. Fourteen percent of Emory freshmen and 22 percent of private university freshmen would prohibit homosexual relations, compared to 34 percent of freshmen nationally. Fewer Emory and private university students think the courts are too concerned for criminals, but the gap between groups is smaller for this variable than for the others (69 and 71 percent respectively versus 73 percent nationally).
Last fall, about 334,000 freshmen from 670 institutions completed the survey. The private university group included Columbia, Duke, Georgetown, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Washington universities. At Emory, 1,093 freshmen participated, for a completion rate of 97 percent. In the next Issues column, findings concerning academic issues, finances and aspirations will be compared.
Susan H. Frost is director of Institutional Planning and Research.