(by Nathan Burchfiel, Nov. 17, 2005, CNSNews.com) – College students trust the United Nations more than they trust the federal government, according to survey results released Wednesday by the Harvard University Institute of Politics.

The survey, the latest in a series of college surveys conducted by the IOP, found that 52 percent of college students “trust the United Nations to do the right thing all or most of the time.” Forty-four percent felt the same way about the United States government. Even fewer, 39 percent, said they trust President Bush to do the right thing all or most of the time.

The U.S. military is the most trusted institution among college students, “despite the war in Iraq,” according to the survey. Sixty-five percent of students said they trust the military, while 60 percent said they trust the Supreme Court to “do the right thing.”

Students’ trust in the U.N. eclipses the general public’s faith in the organization, according to a January 2005 Harris Interactive poll, which found that only 30 percent of American adults “tend to trust” the United Nations, while 44 percent “tend not to trust” it.

IOP consultant John DellaVolte told Cybercast News Service that the group always finds a high level of support for the U.N. among college students. In April 2004, an IOP survey found that 74 percent of American college students believed the U.N. should “take the lead” in addressing international issues.

“This generation thinks about politics much differently than the generation before, where it’s not constrained to just North America,” DellaVolte said. “They see how the entire world is interconnected.”

DellaVolte said the biggest opinion gaps between students and older Americans involve issues relating to international relations.

“When you look at issues related to the right track or wrong track of the country … college students are in line with the general electorate,” DellaVolte said. But on issues related to the war and the United Nations, “college students are much more likely to give the United Nations the benefit of the doubt as compared to older Americans.”

DellaVolte said he thinks students view the U.N. differently because their studies and job opportunities make them “more optimistic about the process and the involvement of the United Nations and other nations in the world.”

Dr. Nile Gardiner, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the survey results should come “as no real surprise” because “college students tend to be overwhelmingly idealistic and tend to be more left-of-center than conservative as a whole.”

Gardiner said that “often students do not pay sufficient attention to what is actually happening inside the United Nations and in terms of what the U.N. is doing on the international stage.”

“Their faith in the United Nations is hugely misguided,” Gardiner said, “especially in light of not only the oil-for-food scandal, but a wave of recent scandals that have fundamentally harmed the image of the United Nations across the United States.”

Gardiner said he thinks students’ opinions of the U.N. are shaped largely by “a biased interpretation of the work of the U.N. and other international institutions through liberal professors who tend to dominate the majority of American campuses.”

The IOP survey covered a wide variety of political issues. Ninety-one percent of students said that running for elected office is “an honorable thing to do,” but 70 percent said politicians “seem to be motivated by selfish reasons.”

It also found that fewer than 50 percent of college students consider themselves “politically active.”

Three quarters of the student population believes that “signing an e-mail petition about a social or political issue,” and “wearing a t-shirt to reflect your political or social opinion” constitute political activity.

Reprinted here with permission from CNSNews.com.  Visit the website at www.cnsnews.com.


1.  According to a recent poll, what percent of college students trust each of the following to do the right thing ‘all or most of the time’?
-the United Nations
-the U.S. government
-President Bush
-the U.S. military
-the U.S. Supreme Court
What group conducted the poll?

2.  What percent of American adults ‘tend to trust’ the U.N.?

3.  Who is John Della Volte?  How does he account for the difference of opinion (on the U.N.) between adults and college students?

4.  Who is Dr. Nile Gardiner?  How does he account for the difference of opinion between adults and college students?

5.  Ask at least 2 adults if their views (on the above mentioned issues) changed between the ages of 20 and 35/40.  If yes, ask:
– “How have your views changed?”
– “Please explain why you think your views have changed.”
Also, ask why they think that college students have differing opinions from adults on their trust in the groups listed above.

6.  Which of the following do you trust to do the right thing ‘all or most of the time’?
-the United Nations
-the U.S. government
-President Bush
-the U.S. military
-the U.S. Supreme Court
For any that you DON’T trust ‘all or most of the time’, explain why.  Be specific.
Are your views similar to those of the college students polled?  Why do you think this is so?

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