George Mason Maintains Diversity, Incoming Freshmen Report Shows

Posted: July 6, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

George Mason continues to maintain its position as one of the most diverse four-year universities in the United States, according to findings in the Office of Institutional Assessment’s (OIA) report on a survey of freshmen entering in the fall of 2003.

The survey, which was released in May, shows that 18 percent of the class was born outside the United States, with the same percentage having a native language other than English. For the latter, this is 8 percent more than the national average within public universities.

The Cooperative Institutional Research Program Freshmen Survey also reveals that 16 percent of the group practices a non-Christian religion, and 21 percent does not follow any religious tradition. Six percent of the class is Muslim, which is six times higher than the national average among public universities. Two percent of the class is Hindu.

Not including students who are classified as nonresident aliens, 31.3 percent of the freshmen class comes from minority groups, the largest being Asian American/Asian, at 18 percent. Both percentages are higher than the national average. Eighty-one percent of the class is substantially more likely to have socialized with someone from another racial or ethnic group, which is dramatically higher than the national average of 68 percent in public universities.

When it comes to political views, most of the fall 2003 incoming freshmen described themselves as “middle-of-the-road,” followed by 31 percent who said they are liberal or to the “far left,” with conservatives and those describing themselves as on the “far right” trailing at 23 percent. These numbers fit with the national averages found at other public universities.

Answers to a host of political questions lend credence to these findings. Seventy-seven percent of the incoming freshmen in fall 2003 said they believe that the federal government should have more control over the sale of handguns, 66 percent said same-sex couples should be able to marry, and 62 percent thought abortion should remain legal. However, 57 percent said affirmative action in college admissions should be abolished, and 59 percent said racist or sexist speech should be disallowed on university and college campuses.

In another remarkable finding, the OIA report notes that one-quarter of the class consists of students who are the first in their families to go to college.

The most popular probable fields of study for the fall 2003 incoming class were business at 18 percent, followed by social sciences at 16.3 percent, and the arts and humanities at 11.9 percent. All three categories put George Mason higher than the national average at public universities. Eighty-two percent said they “agree” or “strongly agree” that technology should be used in course assignments, regardless of the students’ probable major fields, and 90 percent expected professors at George Mason to use technology as part of class.

To view the full report, contact the OIA at 703-993-8834.

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