Okay, so maybe college students aren’t exactly babies anymore. Some of them do have legitimate political opinions, formulated through personal research and attention to current events. But, as I’m about to display, many of them have little to no idea what’s happening in the real world. I took a poll of students at Texas A&M University, via several large (widely used) groups online. Each of these groups requires a Texas A&M certified email to be a member, so it ensured that I would be polling only students. Texas A&M is considered to be a relatively conservative university, with its agriculture roots and heavy military presence attracting many students from small-town Texas. Naturally, I thought producing a survey regarding opinions and education surrounding same-sex marriage based here would produce some interesting results. There were lots of conflicting responses. The first question was “The Supreme Court recently turned down petitions halting same-sex marriage. This means that (at least temporarily), same-sex marriage is legal in at least five more states, paving the way for countless others to legalize same-sex marriage. What are your feelings about this?” Out of exactly 100 responses, 61% reported favorable responses such as “It’s about time!” There were 26% who reported negative feelings such as shock, feeling offended, and being unhappy to hear the report. The other 13% said they had been keeping up with the news and already knew about the development.
The next question was “Do you think that the Supreme Court is indirectly supporting same-sex marriage through this decision?” Students reported 65% belief that SCOTUS was supporting same-sex marriage, 22% belief this didn’t show support, and 13% confusion/no opinion about the topic.
The next question got a wide range of responses, as it was open ended. I asked “Do you know how many states currently allow same-sex marriage?” with simply a blank below the question for them to fill in. I arranged their answers in groupings of ten for ease of reporting. 49% of those surveyed said they didn’t know or didn’t care to guess. There were 21% of guesses between one and ten states, with the most common guess being five states. Frankly, I found this to be a bit shocking. I know that this is a commonly changing number, especially right now, but by 2010 the number was far greater than 10. There were 11 guesses between 11-20, and 17 guesses between 21 and 30. All things considered, I wouldn’t say this is very far off of what I expected.
The next two questions had remarkably similar results, though I don’t consider them to be overly related. The fourth question was “Do you think that the Supreme Court will eventually have to step in for same-sex marriage to be allowed in all 50 states?” This is something I myself have spent quite a bit of time pondering, so it formed the basis for an interesting set of statistics. The overwhelming answer was “yes,” with 71% of the vote. There was a 24% vote for no, and a 5% vote for “I don’t know,” which I suppose is essentially a lack of vote. The final question, which I wanted as a base to compare to the rest of the questions, was simply “Do you personally believe that same-sex marriage should be legalized?” I say it’s simple, but for a lot of people I suppose it isn’t. It got 68% of votes for “yes,” 16% of the votes for “no,” and 16% for “I don’t know.”
Now, why is this information at all significant. It’s a sample of a sample. My opinion is that these statistics are a representation of what’s happening next. Texas A&M is full of college students, learning and creating their own identities that they will still have when they vote in the future. Texas A&M is also full of people with religious and conservative backgrounds, in an incredibly conservative state. If even a majority of the students here believe that same-sex marriage is on its way to be legalized (and agree that it should be), that’s worth noticing.