Saturday, August 20, 2022 Aug 20, 2022
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By Sally Giddens |

Like any machine, a university is only us good as the product it turns out. So. in order to get a feeling for that “product.” we popped a quiz on 344 SMU students during the first weeks of October. As the) sauntered innocently through the Umphrey Lee Student Center, our faithful pollster nabbed them. pushed a pen into their hands, and probed their young minds for opinions on the legalization of cocaine. the First Amendment, Cod, gay rights, and a variety of other topics. Allowing for a small margin of error due to the smart-aleck factor, we feel we got a representative, albeit non-scientific, sampling of the student body.

Some of the results of the survey were predictable. For instance, does it surprise you that many SMU students are Reagan fans and Republicans? But they did throw us a curve ball or two-at a school still tied to the United Methodist Church, a large number of students questioned the existence of a Christian Cod. Their beliefs swayed toward the less structured “supreme being” definition of the world. And alas. when we thought we had them really thinking, we found that more of them could identify the “Wheel of Fortune’s” Vanna While than Daniel Ortega, who they thought made faros for a living. And if you think that’s outrageous, just read on:

Do you plan to slay in Dallas alter you graduate?

The no’s have it, but just barely. Of those surveyed, 140 said they planned to stay in Dallas. 146 planned to leave Dallas (one vowed to go “back to New England, never to return!”), and forty-one hadn’t made a decision.

Who are the three people you admire the most?

We left ourselves wide open for this one. “My father” was the number one answer with 116 votes, followed by dear old Mom with eighty-one. And. you guessed it, Ronald Reagan (or simply, “president”) came in third with sixty votes. After that, the answers were all over the spectrum. Several other presidents racked up votes: John F. Kennedy, twelve; Franklin Delano Roosevelt, six (Eleanor Roosevelt was named by three students); Abraham Lincoln, five; Thomas Jefferson, four; Richard Nixon, four; Teddy Roosevelt, three; and George Washington, two.

Christ was named by eleven students. So was Martin Luther King Jr. Six people said Gandhi was one of the three people they admired the most; four named the Pope. Einstein was the choice of nine people. Several famous capitalists were named: Lee Iacocca by sixteen people. H. Ross Perot by eight. Carl Icahn. Donald Trump. Andrew Carnegie, and T. Boone Pickens each got a vote. A few famous generals passed muster, too: Douglas MacArthur, Robert E. Lee, and George Patton.

The names ranged from Phil Collins to Leonard Bernstein, but the thought stayed the same: musicians of one kind or another were named sixty-five times as people admired the most. Actors, directors, or film producers were named sixty-seven times, and sports figures, led by Herschel Walker, were named twenty-three times.

Should cocaine be legal

Twenty-one students thought cocaine should be legal; 282 thought it should not. There were several “hell no’s.” Four students just didn’t know what to think.

How about marijuana?

A tie: 101 said yes, 101 said no. Seven students said “maybe.” One thought marijuana should be legalized for “medicinal purposes.”

and what about alcohol?

An overwhelming majority of the students surveyed. 284, thought we were nuts for asking and answered “of course.” Twenty-one thought alcohol should be illegal. There were three votes cast for a legal drinking age of eighteen years nationwide, and three votes for nineteen-

Identify these people by profession:

Mike Wallace-274 students surveyed knew that Mike Wallace was a CBS “60 Minutes” anchor. Seventy-three did not.

Carly Simon-286 students were familiar with Carly Simon, who sang “Anticipation.” “You’re So Vain,” and “Jesse.” Fifty-eight had no idea who Simon was.

Daniel Ortega-140 identified Ortega correctly as the president of Nicaragua; 204 just didn’t know the guy. Thirty-five thought he was a taco maker.

Jerry Rucker-Twenty-eight students surveyed follow local politics closely enough to know that Jerry Rucker is a city council member; 316 do not, One student said Rucker was a drug dealer and gave us a phone number.

Paul Hackett-There were forty-four avid Cowboys fans in our bunch who knew that Paul Hackett was the Cowboys’ latest addition to the offensive coaching staff, but 300 students surveyed drew a blank.

Albert Camus-108 students recognized Albert Camus as the French existential philosopher/author; 236 did not.

Steve Bartlett-Sixty students knew that Bartlett was a U.S. Congressman; 284 young voters did not. Several students said that a Steve Bartlelt sells drugs in the South Quad. A couple of others said Bartlett invented the pear.

Eduardo Mata-Forty-two students, many of whom we suspect are music majors, identified Eduardo Mata as the director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra: 302 students answered incorrectly. Nobody confused Mata with Dick Motta.

Vanna White-Do these kids watch television, or what? Vanna White was a household face for 278 of the students surveyed. A mere sixty-six may have never seen the “Wheel of Fortune” queen.

Nicholas Daniloff-246 students identified Dan-iloff. at least vaguely, as the U.S. News & World Report correspondent arrested in the Soviet Union on spy charges; ninety-eight didn’t know him.

Bob Hitch-133 students knew their own university’s athletic director. Bob Hitch; 211 did not.

Should the U.S. ever help to overthrow the elected government of another country?

Eighty-nine warmongers answered yes; 211 pacifists answered no. Twenty-one said that the U.S. might be justified in such an action “depending on the circumstances.” Six specified that communist governments should be overthrown. And one student simply answered, ’”covertly, of course.”

Should we have laws protecting the right of people to say or write anything they please, as long as it does no physical harm to another person?

Three people recognized our shorthand version of the First Amendment and answered that such laws already exist. Another 259 thought that such laws would be a good idea. Sixty people said this country shouldn’t have these laws. There were several “hell no’s”’ and one comment that this country “already had too many liberals.” One student thought we were too liberal for even asking the question. Several people thought this was a trick question, a Catch-22. or rhetorical. (It wasn’t, really.)

list your top five all-time favorite hooks or authors.

Other than the seven people who said they didn’t read, these SMU students are a pretty bookish bunch. The favorites: Hemingway was named forty-three times, followed closely by J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, forty-two; Shakespeare, thirty-two times; Stephen King, thirty-one. The Bible was must reading for thirty students, tied with John Steinbeck. F. Scott Fitzgerald was the favorite of twenty-eight students surveyed, followed by Sidney Sheldon, nineteen; George Orwell’s 1984, eighteen; Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, seventeen; Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, sixteen; Charles Dickens, fifteen; and Hunter S. Thompson, fourteen.

Do you believe in God or some other supreme being?

Seventy-nine students specified that they believed in the Christian God; 220 others specified in some way that they preferred the “supreme being” variety of God. Thirty-one students answered that they did not believe in any God. and twelve couldn’t decide. More than half of the students who answered had specific comments about their beliefs. Following are some of the more interesting ones: “No. Think about this, if all of your sins are forgiven, how could there be a hell?” “Yes. In moderation.” “I believe that others believe in God.” “The proof is lacking, but I hope there is a God.” “Not really. I struggle with it. but the idea is too absurd.” “Conventional Christianity has too many contradictions for an intelligent person to believe.” “Yes. I believe that extreme ignorance, not intelligence, warrants atheism.” “Absolutely I believe in God. Not only do I believe, but I worship Him and try to follow Him in my everyday life. I’m planning a career in the ministry.”

should homosexuals be allowed to teach elementary school students?

Judging from the many unprintable comments, SMU has its share of homophobics. However. 170 students surveyed thought homosexuals should be allowed to teach school. (Three specified “not my kids, though.”) 147 students, including five “hell no’s,” thought that homosexuals should be banned from teaching. Ten students were “not sure.” There were a few comments fit for publication: “Sexual abuse is almost always by heterosexual teachers.” “Yes. As long as they don’t have AIDS.” “As long as they don’t teach sex education.” “Of course. What a stupid question.”

How do you rate the quality of education you are receiving?

Ninety students said the quality of their education at SMU was “great”; 108 said it was “good”; ninety-five said it was “fair”; three said it was “poor”. Five students commented that they thought SMU was “not worth the money.” Among those who preferred a numerical scale of one to ten, SMU rated a perfect “10” with five students; an eight with nine students; and a seven with nine students. Three mentioned that the name “SMU” meant more than the education received there.

How many sexual partners have you had?

Forty-eight people said they had never had sex. 137 said they had had between one and five sexual partners; forty-one recalled between five and ten sexual partners; and seventy-nine claimed more than ten. Several thought their sex lives were none of our business. Two clever souls asked: “At the same time?” and another. “Which weekend?” ?

How much money do you expect to be paid for Your first full-time job after graduating?

You can’t say these scholars lack ambition, but some may be in for a rude surprise when they hit the workforce. Thirty-one students expect to haul down between $35,000 and $40,000 right out of the classroom; sixty-eight expect $30,000 a year will be theirs; forty-three will settle for $25,000 per annum; and a more modest gang of twelve said they’ll make $12,000. Eleven others, who are either law students or frequent visitors to the South Quad, claim they’ll

cut their teeth on $50,000. Nine will settle for “a lot.” One will get by on “whatever Daddy can spare.” No, we don’t have his phone number. ?

Who is the president of SMU?

L. Donald Shields, president of SMU, was identifiedby 295 students surveyed.(We did give credit for quite afew “El Don’s.”) Forty-fivestudents didn’t know who thepresident was, and four identified student body presidentTrevor Pearlman.