The Cycle
updated 1/31/2013 6:50:24 PM ET 2013-01-31T23:50:24

Young rightwingers really do exist. The unicorns of college campuses spoke to author Amy Binder for her new book, "Becoming Right: How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives."

College-aged conservatives do exist, and they may be on a college campus near you.

New research from author Amy Binder shows that young conservatives portray their politics in very distinct ways. In a study that focused on two college campuses–one, an elite private university on the east coast, the other a western public university which is much larger–Binder found that these young conservatives had a very distinct way of expressing their political preferences.

Just as Molly Ringwald’s character rebelled by dating Judd Nelson’s character in The Breakfast Club, SE thinks that being conservative is really the only way to go rogue in college anymore. “Doing a march for fiscal responsibility on the quad? That feels rebellious. That feels different and new.”

Several students in Binder’s study said they “enjoyed being the center of attention” as a conservative on campus. And many felt they were learning critical thinking skills because their assumptions differ from the community around them.

“Students said that as conservatives on campus they were getting a better education than liberals were, because liberals are complacent and they’re kind of drinking the Kool Aid that all of the faculty are giving them. And they, the conservatives, were actually thinking about these issues and talking about them with their friends and bringing up all kinds of issues that get other people mad.”

Binder’s book–”Becoming Right: How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives”–reports that many conservatives enjoyed being provocative. “They were kind of playing ‘gotcha’ with liberals on their campus.”

Video: Conservatives do exist – and in big numbers – on college campuses

  1. Closed captioning of: Conservatives do exist – and in big numbers – on college campuses

    >> this next segment reminded our stellar producer brian of that commercial when santa discovered walking and talking m&ms do in exact exist. it's time to debunk that same political myth about the young conservative because they do exist. and in big numbers . they're on a college campus near you. but with two very different schools of thought if you will in a first of its kind study our next guest discovered the young conservative is actually portrayed in very distinct ways. in the guest spot today, amy binder, the author of "becoming

    right: how campuses shape young conservatives ." amy , welcome.

    >> thank you.

    >> so, because i am a conservative and i go to a lot of college campuses to speak about this, i have a theory on this. it's my theory that being young and conservative these days is only way to be rebellious in college anymore. you know? sort of the anti-war rally or the women's rights march, i mean, these are not new things. done for, in fact, half a century. they don't feel new. they don't feel. they don't feel dangerous but a march for fiscal responsibility on the quad, that feels rebellious. that feels different and new and college kids kind of want that excitement. what do you think?

    >> well, we had several students in our book who told us that they enjoyed being at the center of attention as you're describing. but even more to the point, there are a lot of student who is said as conservatives on campus they were probably getting more of a better education than liberals were because liberals are complacent and kind of drinking the kool-aid that the faculty giving them and they the conservatives were thinking about these issues and talking about them with their friends and bringing up all kinds of issues that got other people mad and getting a better education on their campuses.

    >> amy , there's a piece in "the national review " saying an exception to the idea of campuses as a bastion of liberalism is the fraternity and sorority system where members show up show up on campus more politically conservative and remain that way throughout their four years or however long i guess it takes. some people in fraternities, like " animal house " takes seven years. what is it about the greek system that attracts politically conservative people and keeps them politically conservative through their college years?

    >> it's really interesting that you raise that because in our study, i did this study, by the way, with co-author kate wood, who is a graduate student , and we didn't talk with a whole lot of people who were in fraternities. one of the campuses that we studied didn't have frat ternity system, and the other just didn't have a lot of the students that we were talking with. i was just be speculating here, but students that are perhaps more traditionally into fun and kind of traditional forms of fun, sports and so forth, might tend toward conservatism but, again, we didn't have a lot of those people in our sample.

    >> colin powell was recently on "meet the press" and he said there's a dark vein of intolerance. there's sort of contributing to that dark vein of intolerance. do they understand how they're contributing to that?

    >> well, so here is the really interesting thing about our study. we did research on two different campuses. one an elite private university on the east coast , one a western public university which was much larger and, as i said, public. and it was only on the public university that such actions like the affirmative action bake sale or catch an illegal alien day or the animal appreciation barbecue day, these kinds of actions were thought of as appropriate actions for the campus. and what the students said who ran these kinds of events was that they thought that they had to catch the attention of others on their campus, and they weren't really trying to get on the nerves of the black kids on campus but trying to make a point about the insidious effects of affirmative action , but my sense was that they knew that they were being very provocative and they were kind of playing gotcha with liberals on their campus.

    >> it's a thrill i look for every day. i try, amy . all right. amy , thanks for joining us.

    >> thank you very much.

    >>> okay. so get the hot wings , chips, and, of course, the beer ready. super bowl xlvii is this sunday.

    >> what?

    >> as the baltimore ravens and san francisco 49ers meet at the super bowbowl, we have an office cycle pool going. what is your favorite part of the game ? christopher william riordan says betting squares, chicken wings , and commercials.

    >> no football?

    >> no football. get on facebook and let us know what you think. tomorrow you will learn our take on the oddsmakers, the commercials.

    >>> up next, stop the presses, krystal ball says ronald reagan was right. why do i suspect there is a catch


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