Pew Reseach published the results of a survey today looking at various institutions and what people on the right and left think of them. This graph, created by Pew, shows the results:
As you can see, Republicans tend to feel churches have a strong positive influence on society while the national media is viewed as having a negative impact by a strong majority. But Pew’s analysis of the poll highlights the shift in Republicans’ views toward colleges and universities:
As recently as two years ago, most Republicans and Republican leaners held a positive view of the role of colleges and universities. In September 2015, 54% of Republicans said colleges and universities had a positive impact on the way things were going in the country; 37% rated their impact negatively.
By 2016, Republicans’ ratings of colleges and universities were mixed (43% positive, 45% negative). Today, for the first time on a question asked since 2010, a majority (58%) of Republicans say colleges and universities are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country, while 36% say they have a positive effect.
Among Republicans, there is an ideological gap in views of the impact of colleges and universities and other institutions: Nearly two-thirds of conservative Republicans (65%) say colleges are having a negative impact, compared with just 43% of moderate and liberal Republicans.
I don’t think this change is that surprising in light of what has been taking place on campuses across the country over the past two years. Earlier today I wrote about the protests at Mizzou in 2015. Those protests set off a chain reaction of protests at other schools, all loosely affiliated with Black Lives Matter. At the same time, a series of college speakers were disinvited from various campuses, most for having insufficiently “woke” opinions. That rejection of conservative views reached a crescendo this year with the riots at Berkeley, silencing of speech at Claremont McKenna and Middlebury and, most recently, the unhinged protests at Evergreen College.
At this point, one doesn’t even have to be conservative to be threatened by the radical mob. Professor Bret Weinstein at Evergreen College is very much a progressive. Professor Allison Stanger, who was left in a neck brace after a protest at Middlebury College, is a left-leaning Democrat. Increasingly, it appears the cult of intersectionality has partnered with anti-capitalist black bloc to turn disagreement into a cause for threats and violence. Under the circumstances, is it any surprise the people on the receiving end of years of vilification might think college is having a negative social impact.