The Collegiate Commons surveyed 52 freshmen on their political and religious views during Bridge Week at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
The Collegiate Commons distributed surveys in the evening by placing flyers with a QR code link to the survey under dorm room doors in University Tower, placing them in the elevators, and posting them on the light poles on the corner of Michigan St. and University Blvd. One student received a $20 Amazon gift card for participating.
If forced to choose, 57.7 percent of freshmen students that answered the survey identified as Democrat, while 34.6 percent identified as Republican, and 7.7 percent identified as Libertarian.
No students picked the American Solidarity Party, which was also an option.
However, 50 percent of students said they did not feel represented by the two-party system.
“I feel as if it doesn’t allow for those on either extremes or those in the middle to really have an identification,” said one student. “Which leads to people just choosing what they guess is the better out of the two options which sucks considering it should be an easier choice to go with what party aligns with you morally and ethically.”
A smaller margin of students identified as pro-life, and a few of the self-identified pro-life students also identified as Democrats. This points out the complexity in the political views of some students.
Of that group, 74.5 percent of students identified as pro-choice, and 25.5 percent identified as pro-life.
The Collegiate Commons also asked students which religious tradition with which they identified, if any. Christian or non-religious were the largest two groups.
Those identifying as atheist, agnostic, or non-theist accounted for 36.5 percent of respondents, while 32.7 percent identified as evangelical Christian and 21.2 percent identified as Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. Protestants made up 7.7 percent of respondents, while only 1.9 percent identified as Pagan.
Most students said they felt comfortable expressing their beliefs and practicing their religion on campus, although it’s important to note that The Collegiate Commons surveyed students prior to the beginning of classes.
The Collegiate Commons will follow up later in the year with another survey.
Free Speech Worries
Already, however, conservative or pro-life students were more likely to be uncomfortable speaking out on campus. Among the surveyed students, 38.5 percent of those who identified as pro-life picked a 3 or 4 on a scale of 1-4 when describing whether they felt uncomfortable practicing their religion on campus.
Two-thirds of pro-life students also felt uncomfortable expressing their beliefs on campus, compared to 23.1 percent of pro-choice students.
Meanwhile, 36.3 percent of Republican-leaning students felt uncomfortable expressing their beliefs on campus, compared to only 21.8 percent of Democratic-leaning students.
This trend falls in line with previous campus climate surveys. In 2022, 61 percent of conservative undergraduate students, 68 percent of conservative graduate students, and 61 percent of conservative faculty agreed with the statement, while only 32 percent, 30 percent, and 38 percent of their liberal counterparts respectively agreed.
The survey was limited by a relatively small sample size and the fact that the racial and ethnic demographics of respondents were different from the school as a whole. White and Hispanic respondents were overrepresented and Asian-American students were severely underrepresented.
IUPUI 2030 Plan
One goal listed in the IUPUI Strategic Plan 2030 is to create a “welcoming and inclusive campus culture” and deliver a “sense of belonging.”
The plan, however, did not specifically address political or religious bias. Instead, it focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
The data in the campus climate survey on the other hand is “used by various units on campus, as well as for diversity planning and decision-making,” although it is not clear whether a specific department takes into account diversity of belief for such planning and decision-making.
However, the Collegiate Commons reached out to the university for more information. This article will be updated accordingly.