Polly Ingham and Albi Furlan analyse students’ attitudes towards current political issues
A survey of the student population at the University of York has revealed that 52% of students feel they are not aligned to any party, while 17% of students would vote Conservative, the next biggest group.
Over 200 individuals were polled by Nouse last week, with the intention of discovering student attitudes towards political issues, at a time of heightened interest in national politics due to local elections.
The survey asked students whether they agreed or disagreed with a number of topical issues, as well as their gender, college, age and course. This is perhaps a sign of party lines not filtering down to students, or perhaps students simply formulating their own opinions rather than following the official guideline.
While 12% would vote for Labour, only 8% would support the Liberal Democrats, despite them currently holding the seat for Heslington in the Local Council and their “student friendly” image. Even when a direct affiliation is present there is no correlation between how people would vote, to how their party feels on the matter; the opinions are often directly opposed.
A positive balance of political persuasion is to be found across campus despite widespread apathy. However some colleges, such as Alcuin, cannot shed predifined stigmas. With 24% of preferences, Alcuin has the highest percentage of Conservative students, both male and female voters, of all the York colleges.
The lowest concentration of Tory-aligned students can be found in Langwith college. Langwith however, is also the least politically affilliated of all the colleges.
Halifax has the broadest overall representation, sporting voters, although of small proportions, from the BNP, the Green party and the Monster Raving Loony Party as well as the more conventional political parties.
In a time when global warming dominates eco-policy agenda, the survey revealed that the environment is not far from the thoughts of York’s students. Although the Green Party only obtained 2% of votes, their presence at all is significant.
When polled about current political issues, 47% of students surveyed stated they didn’t know whether troops should be deployed in Kosovo or not, but those who did respond were equally divided. Students were also generally opposed to the idea of boycotting the Chinese Olympics, with 61% of those polled either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with the proposition.
While foreign policy would seems far from the minds of the student voters, educational policy was predictably closer to the hear of students – only 4% of students failed to give an opinion on the control of schools over their pupils’ lives, while the overwhelming majority (70%) disagreed on the issue.
Most students thought that the power of ASBOs should be extended, with 62% of those surveyed agreeing on the proposal, while opinions were divided on the reclassification of marijuana, with a slight majority against the attempt to raise it to a class B drug.