UC Berkeley, Hampshire, and Columbia: Three Most Politically Active College Campuses


According to a poll taken by The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, college students are twice as likely as young people who do not attend college to vote in a presidential election. There is a good reason why political parties are extremely active on college campuses: 19.7 million Americans are currently enrolled in college, they are all potentially eligible to vote, and they are all making their own political decisions for the first time.

Political rallies and protests have become commonplace among younger voters, because college campuses, for the most part, have served as a safe haven for the free expression of ideas for decades. While it would be easy to argue that every U.S. college campus has a political presence, there are a particular few with a political fervor that reaches far beyond the norm.

1) University of California, Berkeley – Located in arguably one of the most liberal districts in the U.S., UC Berkeley has been especially politically active since the mid-1900s. From its iconic protest of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, to its condemnation of the war in Iraq in 2003 and its most recent rally against the greedy capitalists on Wall Street with its “Occupy Berkeley” movement in late 2011 and now 2012, UC Berkeley students have effectively used non-violent sit-ins, pickets, and petitions to voice their political feelings.

2) Hampshire College – Hampshire College is commonly known as an “alternative school.” Classes are predominantly unstructured and led by student discussion. Hampshire College students pride themselves in being “free thinkers” who independently direct the course of their academic studies. Political and social life is dominated by its far left-leaning political aura: Students aren’t afraid to voice their opinions in public with loud, rash, and reactionary protests. Hampshire College was the first U.S. college campus to rally against apartheid in South Africa.

3) Columbia University – How many Columbia students does it take to change a light bulb? Seventy-six. One to change the light blub, 50 to protest the light bulb’s right to not change, and 25 to hold a counter-protest. This familiar light bulb joke sums up the political presence on Columbia’s campus. Consistently ranked among the top fifteen in the US News and World Report’s “Best Colleges,” Columbia has been home to some of the most intellectual political thinkers and activists of our time. Most notably known for its 1968 protest of the university’s institutional affiliation with the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), which was in support of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, Columbia students continue to speak out about some of the world’s most politically hot issues.

Photo Credit: AR Media Studio