The political divide at UTSA

Riley Carroll, Staff Writer

Typically, university students tend to be mostly associated with left-wing politics. But does this include colleges in red states? Does parental influence shape an individual’s political affiliation? Or is it based on the increasing power of digital media? Perhaps reality is a melting pot of both.

To put our questions to the test, I conducted a political affiliation survey and collected data from 279 UTSA students via Google Forms. 

Following this was the opening question regarding political stance. 196 students, or 70.3% of the respondents, selected that they are left-leaning, while only 36 people, or 12.9% of UTSA student respondents, claimed they lean right and the remaining 16.8% of respondents labeled themselves as independent.

Of the left-leaning students, approximately one-third identified with the Democratic party, 20.9% with the Democratic Socialist party and 12.2% with the Socialist party. On the other hand, three major parties were evident in the right-wing students. One-third self-identified with the Republican party, 27.8% with the Conservative party and 22.2% with the Libertarians. Both of the remaining percentages were split between smaller parties and those who selected the “unsure” option.

When given a short answer response question about the reasoning behind their affiliations, the student respondents had many differing opinions.

“I try my best to educate myself and form opinions separate from my parents and my small town’s culture. Educating myself and fostering media literacy has definitely been key,” one anonymous survey participant added.

A left-wing respondent added, “I think that, to an extent, my family only formed the political views they have for the reason that I mentioned earlier – they wanted to feel closer to their own parents.”

Conversely, significantly more right-wing students wrote that their faith has a large influence on their morals.

“A lot of this comes from my religious beliefs but also, as a Mexican American, I believe everyone has the capabilities to better their life, either by working harder, making smarter decisions and making spending sacrifices,” a right-leaning respondent said.

What was most interesting to note was that 93.4% of students who responded that their parents leaned left, also leaned left. In contrast, 26.4% of students who responded their parents leaned right, also leaned right. The more left-leaning a respondent’s parents or guardians are, the more likely they are to have aligning opinions.

Though there is a high percentage of left-leaning students that share ideals with their parents or guardians, parental influence cannot be the sole factor in political stance due to the low percentage of right-leaning students whose morals align with their guardians. The most viable source of political influence is through peers and media. The consistent stream of content and conversation is what truly shapes university individuals into the people they are working to become.

Of the UTSA students I have witnessed interact on campus, the majority share similar opinions with one another. Encountering pro-life, anti-LGBTQ+ or any politically driven organizations has been a rare occurrence and always seems to be met with unprecedented opposition from the student body. In my opinion, the survey results were expected, as most of the UTSA student body seems to align with the outcomes.