Fall 2016 Articles, Misc, Race, Social Issues

Race and NC State: A mixed review

police carThe recent shootings of African Americans by police officers have thrust the issue of racism back into the national spotlight. Reactions about the shootings, civil protests and riots continue to be topics of conversation across not only the country, but at NC State. PackPoll found that 81% of students said they were following the news about racism and race relations in the US and only 61% percent said they were following NC State’s news about racism and race relations. A segment of these national conversations focus on police and whether implicit biases against races, in this case specifically, African Americans, exist. Sixty-eight percent of students at NC State think police are generally tougher on blacks than on whites, which is higher than the national percentage of 53%. Though the reasons for this are not well known, in both cases, the majority acknowledge a bias in the police force.

To better gauge student’s opinions on race relations in the US, PackPoll asked students if they thought police shootings across the country raise important issues about race in the US or if the issue of race garnered more attention than it deserves. In this case, 54% of students said police shootings raise important issues whereas 46% said police shootings receive more attention than they deserve. PackPoll found that when students were asked more specifically whether the police shooting of Keith Scott, an African American man in Charlotte, raised important issues about race, 59% said it did, whereas 41% said it received more attention than it deserved. This percentage difference could very well be attributed to the fact that the shooting of Keith Scott happened in closer proximity to the students at NC State, rather than other shootings that have been happening across the country.

Since the police shooting of Keith Scott, NC State students rallied together to hold a die-in, where hundreds of students gathered in the lobby of Talley Student Union to stand in solidarity with African Americans across the country, a social movement better known as Black Lives Matter. Though not all students agreed. Tensions grew as conversations in Wolfpack Students, an NC State facebook group, experienced a number of politically and racially charged posts, including one where a group of students were publicly shamed for their racist and derogatory comments towards African Americans in a group message. These tensions led to a Student Government Town Hall, where students were able to voice any and all concerns in regards to the racial climate on campus. When asked about the recent race relations on campus, 58% of students think that these recent issues on campus raise important concerns about race relations whereas 42% think the matter is getting more attention than it deserves. Regardless of the recent controversial issues on campus, an overwhelming 79% of students think things at NC State are headed in the right direction, perhaps, a light at the end of the tunnel.

Toplines are available here: Big Poll Fall 2016 Top Lines

NOTE ON METHODOLOGY: This “Big Poll” took place October 2-6, 2016. The survey was administered over the internet to a random sample of 4,000 NCSU undergraduates, generating a 22% response rate for completed surveys. Sampling error is +/-3% for completed surveys and questions asked of the full sample; it is higher for sub-groups and questions asked of only portions of the full sample.

In addition to sampling error, other forms of error occur in surveys, such as confusion about question wording or the order of questions, but these are not precisely quantifiable. We have applied post-stratification sample weights for demographic imbalances in gender, which had minor but noticeable effects on the results.

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