Freshman Survey Part IV: Liberals, Virgins, and Facebook Fanatics

Looking Closer at the Beliefs, Lifestyles of the Class of 2018

UPDATED: September 5, 2014, at 1:44 p.m.

Part IV of a five-part series on Harvard’s incoming Class of 2018, based on data collected by The Crimson in an email survey conducted in the month of August. The complete series can be found here.

Thirty-eight percent of incoming members of the Class of 2018 surveyed by The Harvard Crimson last month reported having had sex before arriving on campus, a slight increase from last year’s class.

But analysis of the survey shows that final club and greek life hopefuls were more than twice as likely to have done the deed than those uninterested in those groups and athletes were significantly more likely than non-athletes to have lost their virginity.

Sexual habits and opinions were among a range of topics explored in The Crimson’s email survey of the incoming freshman class. The survey, conducted by The Harvard Crimson, was emailed to all incoming freshman on Aug. 6 and closed on Aug. 28. Of the 1667 students in the incoming freshman class, 1,172 responded to the survey, representing around 70 percent of the class. The survey was not adjusted for selection bias.

Exploring political opinions, drug and alcohol habits, sexual activity, and the role of technology, this installment of a five-part series on the survey’s results looks at how the newest members of the Harvard community live and view their lives away from the classroom.

TO THE LEFT

When it comes to political beliefs, Harvard’s incoming Class of 2018 appears to be decidedly liberal. A plurality of respondents identified themselves as ‘somewhat liberal,’ whereas only a combined 15 percent of respondents identified as somewhat or very conservative.

On specific political issues, a majority respondents also showed more liberal beliefs, with 58 percent of respondents favorably rating President Barack Obama, 83 percent favorably rating same-sex marriage, and 54 percent favorably rating a national minimum wage of $10.10.

Respondents appeared to be less sure about marijuana legalization, which was rated favorably by 50 percent of surveyed freshmen, and the Affordable Care Act, which was rated favorably by 48 percent.

When asked about their views on same-sex marriage, 83 percent of respondents said they have favorable views while another 9 percent said they had no opinion on the issue.

Men and women seem to have slightly different views, as male respondents were more likely than females to identify as conservative, and women on average reported have a higher opinion of President Obama than males. Only 11 percent of female respondents identified as somewhat or very conservative.

Though only 6 percent of freshmen identified as “very religious,” religious background correlates with political beliefs for the surveyed members of the Class of 2018.

Eighteen percent of respondents identified as Protestant, 19 percent as Catholic, 10 percent as Jewish, 3 percent are Muslim, and just percent 1.6 percen6 and 2.4 percent as Buddhist and Hindu, respectively. About 35 percent said they are either Atheist or Agnostic, while 10 percent choose the “other” category.

Though most demographic and religious groups exhibited strong support for President Obama, his signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, fared less well with certain groups. Thirty-six percent of Catholic respondents gave Obamacare favorable ratings, the lowest of any group. Among income groups, the highest levels of support for the healthcare legislation was concentrated in the middle income brackets.

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