Student Perspective: Columbia College Poll from 1980

In the March 31, 1980 issue of the Columbia Chronicle, an article entitled “Sex, drugs, soap operas” graced the front page. The article summarized the results of a student poll about, well, sex, drugs, and soap operas, plus a few other hot topics.

The fact that college students even watched soaps is fascinating. I know about one person who watches soap operas and that’s my grandma, who lives in a town with (no joke) a population of twenty-eight people. Our generation watches a different kind of soap — reality TV. I’m not sure which is worse: Jersey Shore or General Hospital, which was the most-watched soap in the poll. In another 32 years, future Columbia students will quite possibly laugh at what we’re watching now, (says the woman who hasn’t missed a season of 16 & Pregnant or Teen Mom).

In 1980, 31% of participating students were Catholic, 24% Protestant, and 2% atheist or agnostic. It seems like a majority of the people I’ve met at Columbia are atheist or agnostic. Mary Blood, who co-founded Columbia, then known as Columbia School of Oratory, in 1890, was a devout Christian and an active member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which endorsed Columbia. Drinking wasn’t even allowed on campus! How many of us would attend a college where alcohol was prohibited?

Speaking of substances, in 1980, 46% of students polled had tried cocaine, 31% heroin and acid, and 91% weed. President Blood would have been so…not proud. Even less so if she knew the results of the sexual portion of the survey. Most students lost their virginity between the ages of 13 and 16, some even earlier.

I wish somebody would conduct this poll again, so we could see how different, or similar, the student body is. Check out the link to this poll to see even more intriguing results!

Read the poll and other past issues of the Columbia Chronicle on Digital Commons:

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