Nearly three of four San Francisco State University students voted in this year's election, according to preliminary results of a survey conducted by the Public Research Institute, an independent public policy research organization based at SFSU. The survey also found that SFSU students are more interested in politics and less apathetic toward the political process than the general adult population, when compared to a nationwide survey of adults conducted in 1996.
"Contrary to what a lot of people think, college students--at least at SF State--are politically engaged," said Political Science Professor Richard DeLeon, whose Research Methods class of about 15 students conducted the survey. "They believe they do have a say in politics and are able to make a difference, more so than the national norms."
From a random sample of 455 SFSU students who are eligible voters, 337 respondents (74.4 percent) said they voted and 116 (25.6 percent) said they did not vote. According to the Panetta Institute, 57 percent of eligible college students nationwide voted in the 1996 presidential election.
Preliminary results of the survey also found that 59 percent of respondents are either "very interested" or "fairly interested" in politics. Only 38 percent of adults nationwide said they are either "very interested" or "fairly interested" in politics, according to the 1996 NORC General Social Survey of 1,332 adults nationwide. In addition, 65 percent of SFSU students surveyed said they believe they "have a say about what the government does," compared to 36 percent of those asked the same question in the NORC General Social Survey.
DeLeon and his Research Methods class will co-author a report based on the survey to evaluate the success of a two-month-long registration and voting drive led by SFSU President Robert A. Corrigan.
"I am heartened to know that so many of our students registered and voted in the recent election," Corrigan said. "This confirms my belief that students--at least on this campus--are not politically indifferent. They are concerned about the political process and they will participate when encouraged and supported. Our campus-wide registration and get-out-the-vote drive provided this encouragement, and it is clear that our students responded strongly."
Corrigan spearheaded the vigorous campaign in hopes of combating low levels of voter participation among college-age students. Student organizations, faculty members and others on campus participated by passing out voter registration cards, holding forums on the presidential and vice-presidential debates, and inviting guest speakers such as Gloria Steinem to campus. More than 2,500 students registered to vote on campus as a result of the campaign.
Founded in 1984, the Public Research Institute provides policy research, data collection, analysis, and consultation to SFSU and to government agencies, non-profit organizations, community groups and businesses in the Bay Area and California.
The fourth largest campus in the 23-campus California State University system, SFSU is a highly diverse, comprehensive, public, urban university.
| Public Affairs Offices/Campus News
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