The Most Liberal College in the USA Is…

Warren Wilson College here in North Carolina, according to a joint survey by Newsweek and the website College Prowler. Personally, I’ve never been to Warren Wilson, but, considering the pictures of the place, this ranking isn’t so surprising–it looks like a hippie commune.

Especially commune-like is the school’s work program. If a student logs 15 hours of work for the school per week, he or she will receive a $3,480 break on tuition (tuition is $26,675–about average for a private school). According to the school’s website, “Everyone contributing and working together creates an air of respect which feeds the spirit of community on our campus.”

Alarmingly, Warren Wilson is also apparently a fairly violent place. Even though it is a very small school–983 total enrollment in 2011–it has one of the highest rates of violent crime on campus in the state. When former Pope Center intern Jason Jones surveyed crime rates on NC college campuses, Warren Wilson was ranked the third most violent, notable for 29 cases of sexual assault between 2008 and 2009. According to IPEDS, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, sexual assaults slowed down to only 8 in 2010, which is, of course, still remarkably bad for such a small school.

For comparison, East Carolina University, with about 27,000 students enrolled and a party school reputation, had only 12 cases of sexual assault between 2008 and 2009. In other words, Warren Wilson’s reported per-student rate of sexual violence was 67 times higher than ECU’s.

This raises the question: is there a connection between liberalism and sexual violence? The most liberal school in the country has an absurdly high rate of sexual assault. My colleague George Leef suggested, “Liberals just don’t get the idea of ‘live and let live.'” Maybe. The evidence is anecdotal, of course, and therefore can’t be held as conclusive, but it certainly is interesting.

Duke Cheston

Writer/reporter for the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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