By Amy J. Binder and Kate Wood
When talk turns to college student activism, most people will conjure up images reminiscent of the anti-war movement of the 1960s. But when it comes to campus politics, the students doing the acting are not just on the left and the style they use are not just in-your-face protest. In our soon-to-be published book (Princeton University Press, Fall 2012), we demonstrate that universities have an enormous influence on the tone and tenor of right-leaning students’ political styles—styles which, presumably, inform these students’ political activity later in life. Studying a population rarely explored by scholars of either education or social movements (but see work by Rebecca Klatch and John Andrew), we discovered that while conservative students’ ideological beliefs may be more or less shared across campuses, their political styles vary substantially from one university to the next. By shared “ideological beliefs” we mean students’ commitments to fiscal conservatism, national security, social issues, and the like; by divergent “political styles” we mean students’ expression and performance of their politics.