LSA freshman Andy Frohlich was surprised at the results of a
University’s survey released this week showing that less than
of half of his class follow politics. But the University still says
the class of 2007 is the most politically interested in a
decade.

An annual survey of the entering freshmen class conducted by the
University’s Division of Student Affairs, reveals that 45
percent of freshmen keep themselves politically informed. Students
completed surveys during new student orientation last summer.

The University’s average continues to remain higher than
the national average of 40 percent found at other “highly
selective” public universities.

Malinda Matney, senior research associate at the Division of
Student Affairs, said this percentage is the highest seen since
1993.

“(It recorded) a rising level of engagement in political
interest,” Matney said.

Matney attributed the ongoing 2004 presidential campaign and the
University’s recent cases in the U.S. Supreme Court regarding
its race-conscious admissions policies as possible reasons for such
a high curiosity in current events.

“Quite a lot of interesting and engaging things were
occurring” she said.

Matney added that this high percentage shows an increase in
students becoming involved in public affairs. The survey shows that
93 percent of students performed community service in high school
and that 35 percent participated in demonstrations during their
senior year.

LSA senior Jackie Bray, chair of the Peace and Justice
Commission of the Michigan Student Assembly said she noticed a
significant increase in the number of freshmen politically involved
on campus.

“I think (an increase occurred) this year in particular
because young people realize that the politics of this country are
moving in the wrong direction,” she said.

Bray also said that she was excited that young people were
actively taking stands, as opposed to just discussing problems.

But Frohlich said he thought the University’s percentage
is low. “I’m surprised that student apathy is so
high,” he said.

Other students also thought that political interest among
freshmen would be higher. LSA freshman, Katie Feary said she often
notices political interest on campus.

“I am surprised because wherever you go, there are always
prevalent issues being discussed and it’s hard to get away
from them,” Feary said.

The study was conducted in conjunction with a national survey
done by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at the
Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California
in Los Angeles.

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