Few college students list Middle East conflict as most important issue to them: Survey

Few college students list the conflict in the Middle East as one of the top three issues most important to them, in a new survey released Tuesday.

The Generation Lab survey, conducted from May 3-6, asked college students to select up to three issues that are most important to them, from a list of nine.

The conflict in the Middle East ranked last, with only 13 percent of college students ranking the issue in their top three. Two other issues followed closely behind, garnering little support among college students: national security/terrorism (15 percent) and immigration policies (21 percent).

The other six issues were each included in the top three of more than 30 percent of the students surveyed: health-care reform (40 percent), education funding and access (38 percent), economic fairness and opportunity (37 percent), racial justice and civil rights (36 percent), climate change (35 percent) and gun control/safety (32 percent).

The survey, first reported by Axios, comes as campus protests of the war in Gaza have dominated public attention in recent weeks, raising concern among some Democrats about the potential consequences on Biden’s youth vote ahead of the November election. This survey, however, raises doubt about whether the conflict will be sufficiently important to young voters that they change their behavior on election day.

The survey also shows only 8 percent of respondents say they have participated in protests, including 7 percent against Israeli action in Gaza and 1 percent in support of Israel.

Among the 93 percent who have not participated in protests, 34 percent said they favor the protests against Israeli action in Gaza, 9 percent said they favor the pro-Israel protests, and 50 percent selected “none of the above.”

A strong majority of students (81 percent) said they support accountability for the protesters, including 45 percent who “definitely” and 36 percent who “probably” support the idea that students who “destroyed property, vandalized or illegally occupied buildings should be held accountable by their university.”

Fourteen percent said “probably not,” and five percent said “definitely not,” when asked the same question.

Only 33 percent of respondents said they thought occupying campus buildings was “acceptable for students to do as part of their protest.”

Ten percent said the same about blocking students who support Israel from entering certain spaces on campus, and 42 percent said they thought refusing a university order to disperse a tent encampment or protest was acceptable. Forty-four percent said none of the above three options was acceptable.

The survey included a representative sample of 1,250 students from 2-year and 4-year schools. The margin of error is +/- 2.7 percentage points.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.