The University Record, January 30, 1995

Only 33% of freshmen interested in politics

By Janet N. Mendler
News and Information Services

While almost half of the freshmen entering the U-M this past fall say that keeping up with political affairs is an important goal in life, less than a third of the nation’s incoming college freshmen report they are interested in and value politics.

Although U-M students are more enthused about politics than their national counterparts, interest is declining. Last year 52.3 percent of the students said that keeping up with political affairs was of value, compared with 46.2 percent this year.

Slightly more than one-quarter of U-M freshmen, 25.2 percent, say they discuss politics frequently, a decrease from 30.2 percent last year. Nationally, even fewer freshmen say they talk about politics, 16 percent vs. 18.8 percent in 1993.

The national freshman survey has been conducted for 29 years by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, and sponsored by the National Council on Education. Results are based on 237,777 questionnaires from students at 461 two- and four-year colleges and universities.

Some 4,600 U-M students were surveyed last summer and fall by the Office of Orientation, with sponsorship from the Division of Student Affairs. U-M students were included in the national study this year and in 1993, according to Eric L. Dey, director of students affairs research.

Dey says that despite the declining interest in political activities, research shows that students who attend selective institutions are more likely to be interested in and involved with politics than are students attending other colleges.

“In the current survey, 53.2 percent of students entering highly selective private universities and 42.4 percent entering highly selective public universities are interested in political issues,” Dey says.

The most popular political label among U-M students is “middle of the road” (45.4 percent). Some 19.8 describe themselves as being politically conservative, while 34.8 percent say they are liberal. Comparable percentages at other highly selective public universities are 20.4 percent conservative and 33.3 percent liberal, Dey points out.

The national survey shows that tobacco use continues to rise but alcohol consumption is down. Nationally, some 12.5 percent of freshmen said they smoked, while only 6.2 percent of U-M students say they are frequent smokers.

U-M students show beer-drinking levels similar to those reported nationally, 53 percent at U-M, 53.2 percent nationwide.

The President’s State of the Union Address kicked off the annual process of budgetary wrangling that will continue in Congress. With the departure of key members of the Michigan delegation, newer members have found themselves with seats on key committees. While all of the incumbents who ran for re-election have returned, the delegation sports three new members: Sen. Spencer Abraham and Reps. Dick Chrysler and Lynn Rivers.

Here is a list of the Michigan Congressional Delegation with addresses, phone numbers and committee memberships:


SENATE: Washington, D.C. 20510

Spencer Abraham, R

Budget, Judiciary, Labor

(202) 224-4822

Carl Levin, D

Governmental Affairs, Small Business, Armed Services

(202) 224-6221



Washington, D.C. 20515

James Barcia, D-Bay City (5th Dist)

Transportation and Infrastructure, Science

(202) 225-8171

Dave Bonior, D-Mt. Clemens

(10th Dist.)


(202) 225-2106

Dave Camp, R-Midland (4th Dist)

Ways and Means

(202) 225-3561

Dick Chrysler, R-Flint (8th Dist.)

Banking, Small Business, Government Reform & Oversight

(202) 225-4872

Barbara Rose Collins, D-Detroit (15th Dist.)

Transportation and Infrastructure

(202) 225-2261

John Conyers, D-Detroit

(14th Dist.)

Judiciary, Small Business

(202) 225-5126

John Dingell, D-Trenton

(16th Dist.)


(202) 225-4071

Vernon Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids

(3rd Dist.)

Transportation & Infrastructure, Science, House Reform & Oversight

(202) 225-3831

Peter Hoekstra, R-Holland

(2nd Dist.)

Budget, Economic and Educational Opportunities

(202) 225-4401

Dale Kildee, D-Flint (9th Dist.)

Economic and Educational


(202) 225-3611

Joe Knollenberg, R-Bloomfield Hills (11th Dist.)

Appropriations, Economic and Educational Opportunities

(202) 225-5802

Sandy Levin, D-Southfield

(12th Dist.)

Ways and Means

(202) 225-4961

Lynn Rivers, D-Ann Arbor

(13th Dist.)

Budget, Science

(202) 225-6261

Nick Smith, R-Addison (7th Dist.)

Budget, Agriculture

(202) 225-6276

Bart Stupak, D-Menominee

(1st Dist.)


(202) 225-4735

Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph (6th Dist.)


(202) 225-3761