April 29, 2021


When asked what the most pressing issue of our day is, respondents overwhelmingly mentioned both the environment and racial justice before any other issues. The term “climate” was mentioned in 377 responses and 119 responses mentioned “racism.” 

Also prominent were “inequality” with 72 mentions and “racial” with 64 mentions. Notably, “inequality” was included in only 43 responses last year — not even a top 10 word — while “climate” was by far the most popular word, mentioned 535 times. 

The rise in mentions of racism and inequities reflects year-long national conversations about police brutality and systemic racism after the killing of George Floyd over the summer. 

Many responses emphasized the institutional nature of social issues, with 41 responses mentioning “capitalism” and 25 responses mentioning “systemic.” Others highlighted how they are intersectional: One student responded, “Racial Capitalism (it is the basis of all injustice),” while another wrote, “Capitalism, misogyny, racism, global warming… they all feed off each other and to compare oppressions is to contribute to the problem.”

“Covid” was the ninth most common response, appearing 37 times, with one student writing “Stop over-controlling us with Covid rules.” Many student responses reflected feelings of fatigue and hopelessness: “figuring out WTF is going on,” one student wrote. “Literally everything,” wrote another. One student chose a more perennial issue: “the amount of schoolwork.”

Overall, the majority of students — 56% — say that the value of cancel culture depends on the situation. Others remain skeptical, with just over 10% of students responding with “unsure.” Responses also varied to a degree based on race. Notably, white students were the least likely to think that cancel culture is valuable; black students were most likely to express that cancel culture is not valuable. 

The student population remains very left-leaning, with slight variation among student populations. On a scale from 0 (far left) to 10 (far right), the student population falls at an average of 1.96. The mean for varsity athletes is significantly less liberal at 2.87, compared to the non-athlete mean of 1.80. The means of Black and white students fell near the population sample average — at 1.87 and 1.89 respectively. Asian students are most right-leaning of all racial groups, with an average of 2.53. 

Middlebury students tend to care a great deal about politics, and more than 80% of students say that they “care a lot about a wide range of issues” or “care a lot about a few specific issues.” Female and non-binary students expressed greater interest in political issues: 86% of female students and 96% of non-binary students expressed “caring a lot” — whether it be a wide or narrow range of issuess — compared to 76% of male students. 


When asked what the most pressing issue of our day is, respondents overwhelmingly mentioned both the environment and racial justice before any other issues. The term “climate” was mentioned in 377 responses and 119 responses mentioned “racism.” 

Also prominent were “inequality” with 72 mentions and “racial” with 64 mentions. Notably, “inequality” was included in only 43 responses last year — not even a top 10 word — while “climate” was by far the most popular word, mentioned 535 times. 

The rise in mentions of racism and inequities reflects year-long national conversations about police brutality and systemic racism after the killing of George Floyd over the summer. 

Many responses emphasized the institutional nature of social issues, with 41 responses mentioning “capitalism” and 25 responses mentioning “systemic.” Others highlighted how they are intersectional: One student responded, “Racial Capitalism (it is the basis of all injustice),” while another wrote, “Capitalism, misogyny, racism, global warming… they all feed off each other and to compare oppressions is to contribute to the problem.”

“Covid” was the ninth most common response, appearing 37 times, with one student writing “Stop over-controlling us with Covid rules.” Many student responses reflected feelings of fatigue and hopelessness: “figuring out WTF is going on,” one student wrote. “Literally everything,” wrote another. One student chose a more perennial issue: “the amount of schoolwork.”

Overall, the majority of students — 56% — say that the value of cancel culture depends on the situation. Others remain skeptical, with just over 10% of students responding with “unsure.” Responses also varied to a degree based on race. Notably, white students were the least likely to think that cancel culture is valuable; black students were most likely to express that cancel culture is not valuable. 

The student population remains very left-leaning, with slight variation among student populations. On a scale from 0 (far left) to 10 (far right), the student population falls at an average of 1.96. The mean for varsity athletes is significantly less liberal at 2.87, compared to the non-athlete mean of 1.80. The means of Black and white students fell near the population sample average — at 1.87 and 1.89 respectively. Asian students are most right-leaning of all racial groups, with an average of 2.53. 

Middlebury students tend to care a great deal about politics, and more than 80% of students say that they “care a lot about a wide range of issues” or “care a lot about a few specific issues.” Female and non-binary students expressed greater interest in political issues: 86% of female students and 96% of non-binary students expressed “caring a lot” — whether it be a wide or narrow range of issuess — compared to 76% of male students. 

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