Princeton Review, the industry-dominating college admissions company, recently released its updated list of colleges with the most conservative student bodies. As many of you have heard, our beloved institution, the University of Dallas, topped the list.
While this news might raise some eyebrows, few students are surprised to find that we are among the most traditional and conservative student bodies in the United States.
The term “UD bubble” is often used to describe this almost isolating phenomenon, and the perennial question of whether the Bubble is to be celebrated or mitigated has been resurfaced by Princeton Review’s evaluation.
Princeton Review has a massive readership and is hugely influential in enticing or dissuading students from attending a university. To compound that fact, political affiliations, real or perceived, have become increasingly polarizing and charged after the recent election. Once again, we must ask ourselves if we should work to strengthen or dissolve the Bubble.
What exactly does it mean that we are the most conservative student body? Is it a political statement or does it have a broader scope?
The Oxford dictionary defines conservative as “holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautious about change or innovation, typically in relation to politics or religion.” Princeton Review used conservative in its broader sense. They make no effort to qualify the term, and their accompanying description of UD student culture made no reference to politics. Instead, they noted that “The sport here is engaging in intellectual debates.” The UD student body is conservative in respect to the esteem — bordering on reverence — we have for tradition.
There is no doubt that we are uncommon in this respect, and there is a case to be made that our thinking is backward, that our refusal to assimilate our ideas to modern trends is isolating and detrimental to the mission of our institution.
As students, we are sheltered in the Bubble and have little exposure to popular opinion. Our beliefs and intellects are in developed in an environment largely immune to modern trends.
While that can have an isolating effect and put us at odds with our peers from other universities, it also has merit.
The purpose of education is not to manufacture minds that will assimilate as easily as possible into a broader societal context. It is, rather, to train minds in the arts and techniques that have been developed through time in order that those minds can go out and further develop and improve their field. That should be UD’s objective regardless of how well it coincides with popular opinion.
I came to UD because of the student body culture and the respect UD students have for tradition, both academically and culturally. I love that intellectual debates are the sport of UD and that philosophy is the school pastime.
As Princeton review reports, “’you can always find a good intellectual discussion at UD,’ which ‘often gravitate towards your favorite books, a paper/project you’re working on or what your thesis is about. The whole world becomes your classroom.’”
That is perhaps the most valuable asset our institution has in its mission to develop minds well-equipped to further their fields of interest. UD should wear its conservative badge with pride for as long as it serves to educate — as opposed to indoctrinate — its students.