The Graduating Class of 2016 by the Numbers

Steven R. Watros and Cordelia F. Mendez, Harvard Crimson

On Commencement Day, Donald Trump’s level of support looks far different within the gates of Harvard than it does among the American public: Only 4 percent of likely voters polled in the Class of 2016 say they would vote for Donald Trump in a general election matchup against Hillary Clinton, who would get 87 percent of the surveyed senior class’s vote.

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But among certain populations of Harvard seniors, support for Trump runs stronger. Varsity athletes and members of traditionally male final clubs, for example, were more likely to report supporting Trump. And his supporters reported prioritizing different issues in the presidential election than those who support Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

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And in a year that has seen increased attention to issues of free speech and what some call the rise of “political correctness” on college campuses, a majority of Harvard seniors say they have refrained from sharing certain opinions in the classroom out of fear that they could offend fellow students.

The Candidates

Asked to choose between the three candidates remaining in the 2016 presidential primary race, the vast majority of likely voters in the surveyed senior class–67 percent–said their preferred candidate is Hillary Clinton, while only 5 percent prefer Donald Trump and 28 percent support Bernie Sanders. The Manhattan billionaire, however, has greater support along Mt. Auburn Street and across the Charles River in Harvard’s athletic facilities.

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Classroom Politics

Many pundits and politicians–such as Donald Trump–have expressed concerns over the role of what they call “political correctness” in American society, and The Crimson’s survey of the Class of 2016 polled seniors on their feelings on the role of politics in the classroom.

The majority of seniors said they do not think faculty should include a statement on course syllabi warning students when they cover sensitive material; 31 percent said faculty should post such a statement, sometimes known as a “trigger warning.”

  • About 51 percent of all respondents said they think faculty should not include such warnings on their course syllabi. Seventeen percent were unsure.
  • Eighty-five percent of Trump supporters surveyed said they do not believe faculty should warn students about sensitive course material on their syllabi. A smaller proportion of non-Trump supporter respondents–49 percent–said the same.

Seniors surveyed were more likely, however, to say that they have chosen not to share certain opinions in the classroom out of fear that they might offend their classmates.

  • Sixty-nine percent of all respondents said they have chosen not to express an opinion in the classroom for this reason.
  • About 85 percent of Trump supporters surveyed, meanwhile, said they have chosen not to express an opinion in class for this reason, compared to 68 percent of non-Trump supporters.
  • Roughly 73 percent of respondents who said they are very or somewhat religious said they have chosen not to express an opinion in class for this reason, compared to 67 percent of surveyed seniors who said they are not religious or not very religious.
  • Republicans surveyed, however, were not much more likely than their non-Republican peers to say they have chosen not to express an opinion in the classroom.

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