The partisan ignorance is strong in you today...besides, Hoover graduated from Stanford in 1895, and plenty of universities have internal institutes and buildings named after former Presidents, good and bad.
Stanford is often perceived as a bastion of liberalism, full of left-leaning students, student protests, and activist movements; indeed, the university is famously characterised as a "liberal bubble", politically far to the left of the rest of the US.
The Stanford Review contacted the Stanford student body last week to see where it stood politically. As it turns out, Stanford makes people more liberal both on foreign policy and socially, and the Stanford bubble has a very real effect on people's perceptions.
For the study, 1 means liberal or dove; 5 means conservative or hawk.
GraphThe average Stanford student, unsurprisingly, is pretty liberal*, although not exceptionally so: students averaged 2.8 on fiscal policy, 1.7 on social issues and 2.4 on foreign affairs. They also care moderately about politics, averaging 3.5 with a relatively small standard deviation of 1.1.
There were at least two more interesting observations from the survey data. First, students become more liberal on at least some issues during their time at Stanford: the pre-Stanford admit, assuming students can remember their past viewpoints accurately, scored 2.8 on fiscal, 2.0 on social and 2.5 on foreign policy, two of which (social and foreign policy) turn out to be statistically significant results.
Four key results, however, are statistically significant. First, on perception-reality gaps, both fiscal and social policy differences i.e. the difference between where Stanford students think the average student stands, and where the average student actually stands are very statistically significant. This suggests that perceptions of a liberal bubble', while accurate, are less true than one might assume. Second, students almost certainly change their viewpoints upon arriving at Stanford; the shift in foreign policy is significant enough to be unlikely to be the result of chance, while the shift in social policy is significant at pretty much every level (i.e. extremely unlikely to be the result of chance).
What should we take away from these results? The data on how attitudes shift during our time on campus, while significant, would benefit from comparison with other universities, to establish whether Stanford uniquely liberalises people or whether the liberal phenomenon is one more generalisable to US college campuses. Yet despite this lack of comparative evidence, we should be cognisant of the natural biases students exhibit towards campus' centre of political loudness. The Stanford liberal bubble is very real, and it is plausible that recent polarised discourse on issues like divestment has had a disproportionate impact on our perception of students' political leanings. While these hard statistics indicate a reality where students think people are more liberal than they are, Stanford leans liberal in almost every measure.
( "Liberalism" throughout this article refers to left-wing or modern liberal viewpoints; e.g. fiscal liberalism involves raising taxes and spending, not the classic liberal doctrine of minimal state intervention.)*