Poll shows most Repub­li­cans say col­leges hurt Amer­ica

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Polly Mosendz and Shahien Nasiripour

NEW YORK» Amer­ica’s col­leges are harm­ing the coun­try, the ma­jor­ity of Repub­li­cans now say. It’s a strong down­ward slide in pub­lic opin­ion that, some ex­perts fear, could ex­ac­er­bate grow­ing di­vides among Amer­i­cans and lead to higher lev­els of stu­dent debt.

The con­clu­sion, from a re­port this week by the Pew Re­search Cen­ter in Washington, based on a June sur­vey of 2,504 adults, re­flects a re­ver­sal from just two years ago, when 54 per­cent of Repub­li­can and Repub­li­can-lean­ing Amer­i­cans said col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties had a pos­i­tive im­pact on the way things were go­ing in the coun­try.

Now, 58 per­cent say the op­po­site: that higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions are hav­ing a neg­a­tive im­pact on the U.S. In 2015, only 37 per­cent of Repub­li­cans said that.

It’s first time a ma­jor­ity of Repub­li­cans has said col­leges are hurt­ing the U.S. since Pew be­gan ask­ing the ques­tion in 2010. Just 36 per­cent of Repub­li­cans say col­leges are ben­e­fit­ing the coun­try.

Th­ese find­ings come as protests and free-speech de­bates have been roil­ing cam­puses na­tion­wide in the past few years, spark­ing crit­i­cism from Repub­li­cans in Congress and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who this year threat­ened to strip one univer­sity of its fed­eral fund­ing.

Don­ald Moyni­han, a pro­fes­sor of pub­lic af­fairs at the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin, said he wor­ries that Repub­li­can-dom­i­nated leg­is­la­tures could act on their low re­gard for pub­lic col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties by slash­ing fund­ing.

Pew spokes­woman Brid­get John­son said the re­port’s au­thors couldn’t spec­u­late on why Repub­li­cans’ views had shifted so dra­mat­i­cally in just two years.

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