FRESHMEN TAKE A STAND (SORT OF)

A PERSPECTIVE POLL

Can you name the current governor of New Jersey? How about the Secretary of Defense? When it comes to some of this era’s most contentious social issues, where do you stand?

In an attempt to take a snapshot of political and social values among the College’s freshman class, The Perspective surveyed eighty-five random residents of Wolfe Hall in early March. Participants remained anonymous.

Depending on your confidence in the class of 2013, you may be surprised to learn that only half of these individuals were able to name Chris Christie as the current governor. Some guessed Jon Corzine, and others had no idea.

Just 11% could name Robert Gates as the current Secretary of Defense. Another 15% or so guessed Donald Rumsfeld, who left that office in 2006. But few had heard of Mr. Gates.

Reed Gusciora, adjunct professor of political science at the College, who also represents parts of Mercer County (including Ewing) in the State Assembly, said he was not surprised by the results. On the lack of familiarly with Sec. Gates, Gusciora noted, “he has stayed behind the scenes. Donald Rumsfeld was a much more controversial figure… he was out there giving more sound bites; he was more arrogant. He gave sparkly quotes about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gates doesn’t do that.”

Gusciora attributed students’ inability to name Gov. Christie to an apathetic attitude caused by everyday stresses and distractions. “Most people don’t pay attention to politics. They’re more worried about paying the bills and tuition… and who’s going to win American Idol.”

Questions of statistical accuracy notwithstanding, the results point to an emerging consensus regarding hot-button social issues. Students are overwhelmingly in favor of same-sex marriage, no matter their other positions. They generally cannot fathom the criminalization of abortion, and most support the notion of universal healthcare in the abstract. Whether or not they favor Congress’ recently passed reforms is less clear.

Other results were a bit more surprising. A majority of students do not support the legalization of marijuana and about a third do not support lowering the drinking age to 18.

If you have an interesting suggestion for a poll, let us know. Email your idea to polls@tcnjperspective.com and you may find the results in our next issue.

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