A clear majority of Bend residents surveyed support OSU-Cascades' planned westside campus, according to a poll released today by community coalition "Now for Bend," which supports the expansion.
The poll, which surveyed 300 Bend residents in April, was conducted by GS Strategy Group with a 5 percent margin of error. It found that 59 percent of those polled favored the westside expansion, while 35 percent were opposed. It also asked questions targeted at more general attitudes, finding that 70 percent of respondents believe Central Oregon needs more higher education options, with 84 percent agreeing the region is overdue for a four-year university.
“Having a four-year university here is the missing piece when it comes to opportunities for educational and economic advancement. If we don’t establish a campus on the westside now, we will likely wait 10 to 20 more years. That leaves a generation without options,” said Janie Teater, Now for Bend’s co-coordinator, in a release.
The poll also tapped into attitudes about the ongoing delay caused by repeated appeals seeking to overturn approval of OSU-Cascades' site-plan for the 10-acre campus. More than 60 percent indicated they want to see that process move forward.
“A key ingredient for a stable economy is a thriving university,” said Amy Tykeson, co-coordinator for Now for Bend. “The healthy, sustainable communities known for livability, innovation and economic development all have a four-year college. Bend has all the elements of a great community, with one glaring exception. This campus turns us toward the future with opportunities for students to advance and businesses to succeed.”
The poll additionally broke down some of the demographics of those in support and opposition to the westside expansion. It finds that support is strongest among people 45 and younger (67 percent), those making less than $50,000 (64 percent), and people who live within a mile of the new campus site (59 percent).
Those opposed are more likely to be over 45 (42 percent), make more than $100,000 (42 percent), and identify as politically independent (50 percent).
Both self-identified Democrats and Republicans—as well as east and west side residents—support the campus at rates of about 60 percent. Overall, the greatest factor influencing whether or not someone supports the proposed campus is age, with a margin of about 42 percent separating the pros and the cons among those under 45.
Now for Bend has also launched a website boasting 55 coalition partners and including personal testimonials from community members explaining their support. Check it out here: www.nowforbend.com.
Note: Edited to more clearly reflect that the a majority of those polled favor the westside campus expansion.