Liberal-Leaning Students More Likely to Avoid Iowa For College

One in four high school seniors say they’re eliminating some colleges from their searches because of the politics of the state the school is in, according to a new student poll conducted this year by Art & Science Group.

Around 24% of all students surveyed said they were making college decisions based on a state’s politics, including 31% of liberal-leaning students and 28% of conservative-leaning ones. The poll was conducted in January and February of this year.

Liberal students’ top concern was if a state was “too Republican,” while conservative students’ top concern was “too Democratic.”

Liberal students also said they would refuse to attend a school if a state had abortion restrictions, discriminatory LGBTQ laws, eroding racial equity, lax gun laws and a lack of support for mental health—all of which would apply to Iowa in recent years.

Conservative students similarly said they would refuse to attend a college if a state had liberal LGBTQ laws, the right to an abortion, or a perception that right-leaning voices would be silenced.

Both liberal- and conservative-leaning students reacted negatively to “too conservative on abortion and reproductive rights,” and almost a third of the respondents (32%) said they’d rule out their home state based on politics or the legal landscape, and

Here are Iowa’s positions on issues keeping liberal students away.

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Anti-LGBTQ laws

In Iowa, Republicans this year passed and discussed bills to restrict the privacy and health care rights of transgender and nonbinary children, and debated limiting education about gender identity and sexual orientation.

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed two into law this year: a bill prohibiting gender-affirming care for minors and a bill restricting which bathrooms trans students use.

Last year, Republicans outlawed trans women and girls from playing school sports on a team that matches their identity, a law that also stretches all the way to the collegiate level.


Republicans are also waiting for the Iowa Supreme Court to rule on a the state’s six-week abortion ban, which has been on hold since 2018.

Gov. Kim Reynolds asked the Iowa Supreme Court to revisit the injunction after the Court overturned the ruling that Iowa’s Constitution contains the right to abortion and the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade.

That didn’t stop some lawmakers from introducing a bill to ban abortion entirely, or a bill to ban abortion medication in the state.

Gun Laws

Iowa has also loosened gun laws in recent years: Both open- and concealed-carry are allowed without a license.

There is no longer a requirement to get a permit or have any training to buy a handgun, though if you don’t have a permit, background checks are still required.

An amendment to the state constitution was passed last year by voters to require any new gun restrictions be extremely narrowly tailored. That means it would be harder for the state to create any firearm regulations at all.

Mental Health

This has long been an issue in Iowa, and some progress has been made in terms of creating new programs for addressing mental health. The state also moved the funding stream from property taxes to the state budget.

But the lack of availability and the long wait lists for services are the biggest problems cited by people who work in mental health or who advocate for improvements.

Racial Equity

This year, Republicans in the legislature are working to ban diversity, equity and inclusion programs at Iowa’s state universities.

And in 2021, Republicans passed a bill banning the teaching of “divisive concepts,” which targets ideas such as systemic or institutionalized racism and sexism, and how those have shaped the way the country was built and how it functions now. It was a broad attempt to block the non-existent teaching of critical race theory.

That law has already had negative effects on education, Iowa students say.


Nikoel Hytrek

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3 Comments on "Liberal-Leaning Students More Likely to Avoid Iowa For College"

  • “​​Iowa Starting Line is part of an independent news network” is what you advertise yourself, but this article purposefully takes the stance that anything on the conservative side is wrong or misguided. Either rewrite the article with honesty and fairness, or retract the article completely. Or stop lying about being a “news” source. Being one-sided may be “independent”, it is also dishonest and most definitely not “news”. The author is obviously controlled by their political party platform with zero independence of thought. This is why the people in this country have a lesser opinion of “the media” than “the government”.

  • This is a strange article. It’s posed as a negative, but it’s information is highly positive. The fewer liberal students here the better!

  • Per a previous comment, the WASHINGTON TIMES calls itself “America’s Newspaper” and says that it “delivers breaking news.” But anyone with a three-digit IQ who looks at that paper online for more than ninety seconds can tell that it leans conservative. I don’t yell at the TIMES that it should retract stories. I choose and read the news sources that provide the kinds of information I want to read.

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