Survey Says… Whites and Non-Whites Unified on the Prevalence of Prejudice on U.S. Campuses

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CampusCompare conducts nationwide survey to measure prejudice on campus and its impact on youth voting behavior; discovers that racial tensions run deep on many of America's campuses.

CampusCompare (, an organization dedicated to documenting all aspects of college life, conducted a nation-wide survey of 1385 college students to measure how prejudice, safety, and diversity on campus are impacting youth voting behavior.

The findings show that two-thirds of both white and non-white students report incidents of harassment and use of racial slurs on campus in the last year, despite high levels of diversity on campus.

The survey initially set out to discover how race impact youth voters. Are today's newest voters "past" race issues? Does a student's race impact his or her vote? Does the candidate's race?

The surprising outcome was that racial tensions and prejudice still run deep on many of America's campuses. A selection of survey results are included below.
When asked to rate the frequency of "How many incidences of harassment as a result of prejudice have you witnessed/heard about on campus in the last 12 months?" both groups gave alarmingly-high results:

-64% of white respondents said 1 incident or more;
-75% of non-white respondents said 1 incident or more.

Breaking down these responses further, as many respondents indicated "more than 5 incidents" - the highest option available in the survey.

-13% of whites answered "more than 5";
-19% of non-whites answered "more than 5".

When asked to rate the frequency of "I have had a racial slur directed at me or have heard a fellow student use a racial slur on campus",

-46% of whites answered "never"
-Only 35% of non-whites could say the same.

64% of whites and non-whites alike reported hearing racial slurs used against them or others weekly, monthly or yearly:

I have had a racial slur directed at me or have heard a fellow student use a racial slur on campus.    
-White: 46%    
-Non-white 36%

Weekly, Monthly Yearly:
-White: 64%    
-Non-white: 64%

On many questions, survey results varied widely depending on how students identified their own race. We therefore assessed results by white vs. non-white* respondents.

When asked whether "I have felt unsafe, threatened, or afraid due to others' prejudice"**,
-Only 44% of non-whites answered "never", 20% less than white respondents.

I have felt unsafe, threatened, or afraid due to others' prejudice:
White:    54%
Non-white: 44%

Historically, higher education has been cast as being ethnically homogenous. Some might therefore assume that a lack of diversity on campus could be at the root of the high frequency of prejudice-based harassment indicated above.

However our survey points to a high perception of diversity on campus. Both white and non-white students surveyed strongly believe that ethnic diversity is reflected in the student body of their school.

Ethnic diversity is reflected in the student body of my school:    

Agree or Strongly Agree:
White:    76%    
Non-white: 70%

However, the results diverged widely when students were asked whether the faculty was ethnically diverse. White students were almost a third more likely to assert that their faculty was diverse than non-white students.

Ethnic diversity is reflected in the faculty at my school.:

Agree or Strongly Agree:
Non-white: 55%

Responses diverged highly when asked whether race continues to be an issue in their daily lives.

Does race factor in any way into your daily life at school?        

White: 29%    
Non-white: 58%

i. How Much Does Race Impact Your Vote?
Whites and non-whites differed again when we asked whether race would influence their vote. Overwhelmingly both groups said it would not, with an overall total of 75% who 'Disagreed' or 'Strongly Disagreed'. However, when one takes a closer look at the racial differences in voting behavior, non-white respondents 'Agreed' or 'Strongly Agreed' that race influences their vote twice as much as white respondents.

Questions of race influence my vote in one way or another.    
Agree or Strongly Agree:
White: 20%    
Non-white: 41%

ii.    Race and Perceived Exploitation of the Race Card
Although race clearly remains a sensitive topic amongst youth voters, survey respondents felt that the race issue had been exploited by one party or another in order to manipulate the public's vote.
Of those polled:

  •     White respondents were almost 54% more likely to accuse Obama's campaign of exploiting race issues;
  •     Non-white respondents were 14% more likely to accuse McCain's campaign of exploiting race issues.

One area where the racial divide disappeared: both groups overwhelmingly identified the media.

Do you believe any group has exploited the race issue in order to manipulate the public and/or influence voters? (check all that apply)     

Obama-Biden Campaign    :
Non-white: 26%

McCain-Palin Campaign    :
White: 44%    
Non-white: 50%

Religious Leaders    
White: 43%    
Non-white: 35%

The Media
White: 78%    
Non-white: 77%

Despite years of Civil-Rights struggles and political correctness, our responses show that even amongst today's youth--a group that has never known legal segregation, race wars, or mobs--there is a pervasive difference in perceptions between whites and non-whites.
Considering the racial division on responses on this survey, it seems fitting that when we asked students what question they would like to ask the candidates, the most popular response was "How will you bridge the racial divide in this country?"

About CampusCompare
CampusCompare, a division of CompareCorp, is a free, online resource that makes it faster and easier for college-bound students to find their perfect college match.

CampusCompare facilitates the college search and selection process by providing up-to-date information on 2,500 U.S. universities and colleges from multiple trusted sources as well as students and alumni. The result is a unique blend of authority information and personal experience providing a 360o view of college life.

The dynamic website includes a personalized dashboard where users can save information, network with others, categorize schools by "reach", "match" and "safety", keep track of application deadlines and employ a series of free interactive tools such as a comprehensive Financial Aid Calculator, a MatchMe tool that matches schools to individual student preferences, and "What Are My Chances?", an algorithm-based meter that gauges students' acceptance odds.

For more information or to create a free account please visit


  •     This survey was conducted between October 24th and October 29th, 2008.
  •     All responses were strictly anonymous.
  •     This survey was conducted online using third-party survey software, SurveyMethods.
  •     All questions were multiple choices, with the exception of "If you could ask one question about the current economic situation to the presidential candidates, what would it be?" which allowed respondents to either select one of three provided questions or formulate their own.
  •     All questions were required.
  •     This survey was completed by 1358 respondents.


  • White vs. Non-white:

Respondents were asked to identify themselves according to race. Survey responses were then analyzed as a whole, by "White" respondents, and by "non-white" respondents.
While over 1350 college students were surveyed, and we saw some diversity amongst respondents, the majority (70%) self-identified as white.

** The question on Harassment indicated "Prejudice based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political views or disability."

Who Will You be Voting For?
Survey respondents overwhelmingly were supporting Obama, at nearly 67% overall.

Obama has the lead across both groups, but the remainder vote is split, with McCain taking the lead amongst white, and a toss up amongst non-white voters.

Who Will You Be Voting For?    

Barack Obama:     
White: 64%    
Non-white: 78%

John McCain:     
White: 27%    
Non-white: 12%

White: 9%    
Non-white: 10%


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Lauren Aufiero
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