Over 1,300 students—14.5 percent of the overall undergraduate population—responded to a survey sent out by the Undergraduate Government of Boston College last October. The survey’s purpose was to gauge student perception of UGBC, as well as what students would like to see more of from the organization. The survey was closed near the end of January.
UGBC met on Sunday evening for its general meeting to discuss, mainly, the results of the survey. Created by Chris Liu and Derek Xu, both MCAS ’19, it presented students with statements and asked if students “strongly agree,” “agree,” “remain neutral,” “disagree,” or “strongly disagree” on whether “UGBC actively addresses” the issue in the statement. There was also an option to participate in a one-on-one interview with a member of UGBC. The link to the survey was included in several of UGBC’s weekly email newsletters. Students who completed the survey were entered into a raffle for a $150 Uber Gift card.
The statements addressed 10 areas of student life: race and culture, religion and ideology, gender and sexual identity, disabilities, health promotion, club development and maintenance, transition to BC, communication with student body, awareness of UGBC events and initiatives, as well as overall representation of the student body.
The survey garnered 1,315 responses. Freshmen made up 28.4 percent of total responses. Seniors made up 27.7 percent of the responses, sophomores made up 23 percent of the responses, and juniors accounted for 20.9 percent of the responses. The breakdown of respondents’ race, graduating year, and school closely mirrored the actual demographics of BC, which Liu and Xu believe means the results of the survey accurately portray the sentiment of the student body as a whole.
Liu and Xu started their presentation by stating that each of the questions was aimed at giving feedback to different committees of UGBC.
Overall, the survey showed that students believe UGBC actively addresses many issues of student life. Of the 10 categories surveyed, disabilities and transitioning into the BC community were the only two categories that received “neutral” rankings by the majority of responders. How UGBC has been addressing disabilities on campus saw about 35 percent of respondents answer “neutral” while about 36 percent of respondents answered either “agree” or “strongly agree,” and about 29 percent of respondents answered either “disagree” or “strongly disagree.”
“I think a lot of people aren’t affected themselves, personally, and so they don’t see that apply to them as often, and so when they answered this question that kind of translates onto there,” Liu said.
After touching on the positives that the response data showed for the issue of disabilities—general acceptance of disabled by the student body, willingness to help, and the existence of UGBC’s Council for Students with Disabilities (CSD)—Liu discussed the negative responses they received.
“There is not enough awareness of UGBC resources,” Liu said. “There is awareness of CSD and other resources on campus, however it is also limited in serving populations. Some people just don’t know it exists.”
Within the category of UGBC’s role in transitioning students into the BC community, about 37 percent of respondents answered “neutral,” while about 36 percent of students answered either “agree” or “strongly agree,” and about 27 percent of students responded either “disagree” or “strongly disagree.”
Xu attributed the “neutral” responses to a general lack of awareness of what UGBC does during move-in for freshmen and transfer students.
“As the student government representing the student body, if we don’t have that initial connection and first impression with the new students that come in, then it’s only going to get harder when we ask for their opinion and input because they don’t necessarily feel integrated on the onset,” Xu said.
For the topic of gender and sexuality, about 71 percent of the student population either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that “UGBC actively addresses gender and sexual identity issues and concerns at BC.”
Liu acknowledged UGBC’s successes in this area of student life, but also pointed out many areas for improvement. Many respondents felt that there was a lack of discussion around masculinity on campus, and while UGBC has hosted events surrounding masculinity at BC, Liu said they do not spark long-lasting conversation and reflection. Students also felt that while BC’s Women’s Center has facilitated many conversations around femininity, there is little broader discussion outside of that confine.
He also said that the majority of respondents identified as being heterosexual, which he said could be a source of bias.
Xu and Liu are now working to formalize a report of the findings.
”People think we’re doing our jobs,” Xu said. “I definitely think that, as a whole, one of the things that we can work on is figuring out how to best run the events best and how to allocate our resources to make sure that we’re doing the best job that we can. Because I know we’re all trying hard, and that we want them to see it too.”
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor