Collected Wisdom: Sex, Drugs, and Vietnam

In the fall of 1967, the Maroon polled the Class of 1971 on the pressing issues of their day

By Jordan Holliday

Always eager to keep a finger or two on the pulse of the College, the Maroon in 1967 sent a selection of incoming students a questionnaire asking their opinions on Vietnam, student activism, sex, drugs, and (these being the sixties) not much else. The following article, published without attribution in the September 29, 1967, edition of the Maroon, recapped the response.


…And One of the Most Radical

The Class of 1971 is one of the most radical ever to be admitted to the College, according to a 15 percent random sampling conducted by the Maroon.

More than 94 percent of the students polled disagreed with President Johnson's Vietnam policies, of which 85 percent wanted a more peace-like stand.

The most surprising thing about the class is the lack of moderates. A majority of the class said that they would join the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in preference to other groups, including the Young Americans for Freedom (2 percent), the Young Republicans (13 percent), the Young Democrats (15 percent), the Independent Voters of Illinois (13 percent), or the DuBois Club (6 percent). The groups on the list that most would call "moderate" accounted for only 41 percent of responses.

Want to Make Decisions

The first-year students also wanted more power for the students in the University decision making. Only 6 percent of those polled were satisfied with the present system under which the administration and the faculty have complete final power over University decisions.

More than 83 percent of the pollees disagreed, in many cases giving multiple answers. The larger number felt that "students should have some voice as non-voting members of committees in questions of policy-making." Thirty-one percent of the students polled felt that there was nothing wrong with "making themselves heard by invoking demonstrations or sit-ins."

Favor Drug Legalization

A majority of those students answering said they "would…use marijuana," and a much larger majority favored its legalization. The women said that they would use it by a majority of 56 percent to 44 percent while the men favored it by 65–35 percent.

The results favoring its legalization were 71–29 percent and 76-24 percent, but when asked if the University should allow its use on campus, the majority disagreed entirely. The women agreed 54–46 percent, but the majority of men (58–42 percent) felt that the University should not allow drug use on campus. Whether the question presumed legalization of some kind or not, however, was not made clear to the respondents.

The men were much more in favor of premarital sex than were the women. While men favored it by a 69–31 percent vote, women favored it only 60–40 percent. Many women expressed no opinion on the subject.

[At this point, the article jumps to another page. The jump headline reads, "Greater Percentage of Male Virgins."]

When asked if they engaged in it, however, the relationship changed considerably. Thirty four percent of the women said they had, while 66 percent denied it. Of the men 32 percent said that they had engaged in sexual activities but 68 percent said they had not. Thus there are a higher proportion of male virgins than female virgins.

The Maroon poll, however, is by no means definitive. Some students probably did not answer the poll seriously, typified by one girl who admitted in premarital sex yet disapproved of it strongly. (Perhaps she's married.)


Other interesting facts: The same issue of the Maroon noted that the 731 first-years entering the College in 1967 scored an average of 672 on the SAT verbal, and 665 in math. 401 were reported to be male, 328 female, and why those numbers don't quite sum to 731 went unexplained. The students hailed from 45 states and six other countries. "About a quarter of the class" was from Illinois, "with another 15 percent from New York state."

"One of the most underrepresented groups in the class are the Negroes," the Maroon wrote. "According to an admissions officer, only about 4 percent of the class are Negro. This is about the same as last year…"

In Spring 2010, just over six percent of College students here self-reported as black (though more than 800 of the 4885 College students declined to list their race or ethnicity).


More Collected Wisdom: Welcome to ChicagoAn Argument for UnderstandingAiming Nowhere at All