Campus life survey reveals shift in Bethel’s political views

McKenzie Van Loh | News Reporter

The results from a campus life survey taken last spring have been released, revealing a shift in Bethel’s political views. Students were asked in May who they would vote for in the presidential election. The largest percentage was “Can’t decide but will vote,” at 34.3 percent. The second largest category was, “Will not vote for either candidate” at 27.34 percent. Hillary Clinton showed 20 percent of the student interest and Donald Trump followed close behind with 18.35 percent.

“If we had a more typical Republican candidate, I would expect these numbers to be higher, and specifically the number for Donald Trump,” Department Chair of Political Science Fred Van Geest said.

As for the characterization of Bethel’s political views, close to 50 percent of the students classified themselves as either “conservative” or “somewhat conservative.” Just over 25 percent of students classified themselves as “middle of the road.” Under 25 percent of the population classified themselves as “liberal” or “somewhat liberal.”

“I think it’s really healthy for the campus to have (what I think is) a well balanced faculty in terms of political ideology,” Department Chair of Psychology Joel Frederickson said. “We’re a very balanced institution. We’ve got a good chunk of conservatives, we’ve got a good chunk of liberals, and we’ve got a lot in the middle. There’s hardly any other college or university like that. Almost all of them are mostly liberal.”

As Bethel approaches election day, Van Geest holds his own predictions.

“Those who say they can’t decide now I’m guessing a good portion of those will consider third party candidates,” Van Geest said. “It would be different if we were in one of those states where Donald Trump did really well in the primaries. But Minnesota’s not like that. I think Minnesota nice matters among Bethel students. They come from that culture, and Donald Trump is not Minnesota nice.”