Office of Student Affairs Surveys Students on Social Life
Issue   |   Tue, 04/10/2018 - 22:50

In an effort to gather student opinions on social life, the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) sent out a survey to students on March 16, and they had until April 2 to finish it.

Aimed at understanding students’ level of satisfaction with the current social life on campus, the short questionnaire allowed students to describe their ideal social experience.

In the past, the Office of Student Affairs has sought out students’ opinions on their social experience at the school in more public settings.

This has taken the form of meetings with members of the office in residence halls and students spaces, as well as the town hall meeting that the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) hosted in February.

However, Senior Advisor to Student Affairs Jess Caldwell-O’Keefe, explained that the OSA, noticing some of the drawbacks of these feedback settings, chose to try a survey format.

“Recognizing that not everyone is comfortable speaking in a town hall meeting or has the time to attend a focus group,” Caldwell-O’Keefe said, “[we] wanted to provide an opportunity for everyone to share their ideas and experiences, while also voicing their concerns and questions.”

The survey had a 39 percent response rate, with 675 students responding to it. Although they are still in the process of coding and visualizing the data that they received, Caldwell-O’Keefe explained that they hope the information “will help everyone better understand students’ needs in terms of what types of spaces and activities are needed for social gatherings.”

One of the aims of the survey is to see how students think the college can make the social experience more inclusive and enjoyable for all students, according to Caldwell-O’Keefe and Director of Institutional Research Jesse Barba.

While some students have reacted positively to the survey and the effects it might have, others don’t think it will have an impact on social life at Amherst.

“I don’t think anything will change,” Annie McCluskey ’20 said. “A survey most likely won’t change anything.”
Others, like Cam Mitchell ’21, viewed the survey as a sign that the school was making an effort to listen to all students’ opinions.

“The survey was anonymous,” she said. “It was uncensored. I think that allowed people to give more honest answers than they ever have before.”

Mitchell said that she thinks the survey could be a possible catalyst for improvement to campus social life. “While I don’t think they will be drastic,” she said, “I do think there will be changes made. I’m just not sure what they will be.”

Even those who see the potential that the survey might have are still unsure if changes will ever actually take place. “I would hope that the statistics from [the survey] would have some impact on the social life,” Asha Walker ’18 said, “but I don’t know if the administration will take them into consideration and actually change how the social life is.”