Freshman class most likely to protest in past 50 years, study finds

MU students have organized more than a dozen major protests this year.
Results of a recent annual study completed by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program reported that 8.5 percent of the freshmen participants reported there was a "very good chance" they would participate in a protest. Maneater File Photo

A survey of more than 140,000 college students conducted at the start of the fall semester has found that this year’s class of American freshmen is more likely to participate in demonstrations than any other in almost 50 years.

The release of the report comes after months of protests at MU. As of Feb. 4, more than a dozen demonstrations had been organized by MU students since the beginning of the academic year. In the days following the resignation of former UM President Tim Wolfe, activists from at least 150 colleges organized protests in solidarity.

Protests during the historic fall semester included the graduate student walkout, protests supporting Planned Parenthood, the Concerned Student 1950 and Racism Lives Here racial equality protests, and the burning of an Islamic State flag.

The activism wasn’t constrained to 2015, either: Concerned Student 1950 returned Feb. 4 to protest in support of Melissa Click and reissue their demands at a UM System Board of Curators meeting.

The annual survey is conducted by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program collected information on mental health, pell grants, religious affiliation and other categories. The study also found that students were drifting farther left politically and identifying as nonreligious more.

Eight-and-a-half percent of freshmen reported in 2015 there was a “very good chance” they would participate in a protest, up from 5.6 percent in 2014. The percent is the highest recorded since the study began to record the category in 1967.

The percent of students who said they would likely protest also varied greatly by race, with 16 percent of black students reporting a “very good chance” and 10 percent of Latino students. White students came in at 7.1 percent, and Native Americans at 5.8 percent. All races saw an increase from the previous year.

The study doesn’t give a specific explanation for the increased likelihood, but it does allude to the fact that 96 percent of incoming students witnessed a rise in activism among high school and college students.

“Many of the protests and outcries on college campuses and in communities have occurred in response to local incidents of bias and discrimination and in solidarity with broader, national movements (e.g., Black Lives Matter),” the study stated.

Edited by Katherine Knott | kknott@themaneater.com

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