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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Survey reveals students’ thoughts about UA

    UA students revealed how safe they feel on campus, the extracurricular activities they participate in and, for the first time, their sexual orientation among other topics in a recent survey by the Dean of Students Office.

    Seven hundred and thirteen students completed the Student Campus Climate Assessment Tracking Study survey in April, out of 7,000 who were invited to take part in the survey.

    “”The primary objective of this project was to evaluate major issues facing students and determine their feeling of comfort on the University of Arizona campus,”” according to a report of the survey results by the Dean of Students Office, which administers the survey every five years.

    “”The survey is committed to hearing from students in their own words about their experiences here,”” said Veda Kowalski, associate dean of students, who has been involved in all three of the UA’s campus climate surveys. “”We want to see what common themes students want to see worked on.””

    Kowalski said several changes on campus have come as a result of the campus climate surveys taken in 1996 and 2001. She said the blue emergency lights spread throughout the university were one example.

    “”A big issue in the 1996 survey was safety,”” Kowalski said. “”The blue lights were a direct result of that.””

    In addition to safety, the survey also covered student use of university buildings. Building such as the UofA Bookstore and the Main Library gained high percentages of use, with 98 percent and 92 percent, respectively.

    Kowalski said she wasn’t surprised by the numbers.

    “”It’s the university bookstore,”” Kowalski said. “”Everyone shops there.””

    Despite the percentage of use reported by students about the bookstore, Monique Dias, a media arts freshman, said she tries to avoid the UofA Bookstore if possible.

    “”I try to go other places if I can,”” Dias said. “”It’s overpriced and always busy. The bookstores off campus have much better prices, and I can spend a lot less time there for the same book.””

    While the bookstore may have achieved high use from users, the same cannot be said for the Student Recreation Center, which rated only a 58 percent usage rate, down from 75 percent use in the 2001 survey.

    “”We don’t ask the question of ‘why’ on the survey,”” said Kowalski. “”We simply get the students’ response to the question. Why comes up later, in the follow-up. We’ll eventually bring student groups together and have them respond to the percentages.””

    While the majority of the survey questions were carried over from the 1996 and 2001 copies, new questions dealing with students’ sexual orientation were added for the 2006 version. In the results, 4 percent of UA students describe themselves as bisexual, 1 percent as gay and 1 percent as lesbian.

    • 1 percent of students surveyed are both learning disabled and physically disabled
    • 1 percent are gay
    • 1 percent are lesbian
    • 3 percent have a learning disability
    • 3 percent are physically disabled
    • 4 percent are bisexual
    • 6 percent “”strongly agree”” that online interest groups (i.e., Facebook or MySpace) are as meaningful groups with face-to-face interaction
    • 10 percent belong to a sorority or fraternity
    • 12 percent belong to a multicultural program or cultural center
    • 21 percent use the ASUA SafeRide program
    • 23 percent said they are dissatisfied with most of their teaching assistants
    • 25 percent don’t feel safe on campus after dark
    • 39 percent believe university policies seem to have the students’ best interest in mind
    • 54 percent don’t feel safe off campus after dark
    • 55 percent of students say they are at least “”somewhat involved”” with student organizations or activities outside the classroom
    • 56 percent regularly use an iPod or MP3 player
    • 59 percent have been unable to get the classes they need
    • 59 percent are at least “”somewhat involved”” in nonuniversity organizations or activities
    • 66 percent feel powerless to change university policies
    • 66 percent said school spirit is strong
    • 68 percent often feel overwhelmed and frustrated
    • 72 percent think students are generally tolerant of ethnic or racial differences
    • 80 percent want students to be more involved with large, universitywide decisions
    • 96 percent feel safe on campus during the day

    – Results were compiled from 713 UA student responses to an April 2006 survey
    Source: Student Campus Climate Assessment Tracking Study executive summary, the Office of the Dean of Students

    “”I think (1 percent) is ridiculously low,”” said civil engineering freshman Jessie Hirst, referencing the lesbian population on campus. “”Currently there are only 340 people in the UA community who are admittedly lesbian? Statistically, that seems probable if that’s the number of people who are out, because it’s difficult to come out, but there have got to be more people in the closet.””

    Kowalski said she believes the new question was an important one to ask.

    “”We met with various groups around campus to see if there were new themes to be covered,”” Kowalski said. “”This topic came up on more than on occasion.””

    Kowalski said the results on students’ favorite activities revealed some interesting statistics.

    About 43 percent of students said they like to spend their time doing physical activities such as exercising or playing sports, and 31 percent said they enjoyed spending time with friends.

    Four percent of students said they preferred to spend their spare time going to bars or clubs.

    “”It doesn’t surprise me that students are taking part in healthier activities as opposed to drinking,”” Kowalski said. “”It goes against the stereotype that all students do is party and drink. We should be working on erasing that stereotype.””

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