Most students don’t support new dining plan, survey by UA reveals

One-sixth of undergraduates respond to survey about student life

3317 uasurvey
Most common student concerns for the UA. Square area corresponds to student interest. Numbers refer to quantity of student references to the issue in the survey results
Connor Kirschbaum—The Tech

Students are strongly disinterested in the proposed dining plan, according to a survey conducted by the Undergraduate Association last week. Out of 222 respondents who said they lived in a dining dorm, only 98 said they had heard or read specific details about the plan. Of those 98 students, only 8 supported the new dining plan. Approximately one-sixth of undergraduates participated in the one-page survey, which asked questions about student life issues.

“It is hard to defend a plan that a majority of the students don’t support,” said Samantha “Sammi” G. Wyman ’11, Vice President of the UA. Looking at the survey data, Wyman said that it is “not clear that affected students support the plan.”

President Vrajesh Y. Modi ’11 and Wyman said that they contacted Dean for Student Life Chris Colombo and are hoping to meet with him today to discuss the results of the survey. The Division for Student Life has not yet responded to a query made by The Tech yesterday at 4:00 p.m.

While the ultimate decision for the new dining plan will be made by Colombo, Wyman and Modi said they will inform Colombo of what they have learned from the student survey. Wyman said that she believes “a plan should not be implemented until it is clear that affected students support it.”

Tom Gearty, the director of communications for the Division of Student Life, said that he has not yet looked at the survey data, however, he said that all incoming freshmen and parents should have known about the change. “The Housing Office made sure that the information sent out to incoming students and parents noted the new meal plan,” Gearty said.

The survey also revealed that some students were not aware of the proposed dining plan, which is planned for fall 2011. Of the 222 survey participants who live in a dining dorm, 26 said that they have not heard about the dining plan. 15 of those 26 students are freshmen.

Modi said that it is concerning to know that some students don’t know about the plan, but it is even more concerning that students who do know the plan don’t support it.

Survey addressed range of student life issues

The survey was given to students in paper form, Modi said, in order to reduce response bias.

Survey respondents listed items which they would like the UA to address this year. The most common issues include dining (188), shuttles (50), and printing/scanning/computing (32).

The survey also asked questions about Maseeh Hall, PE credit for club sports, and the plans for the former “Game Room” in the Student Center next to LaVerde’s.

Students were in support of giving PE credit for club sports. Out of 655 student participants, 447 said “Yes” to giving PE credit, 138 said “Depends,” and 66 said “No.” According to Chair of the UA Committee of Athletics Riley E. Brandt ’11, giving PE credit for club sports has been a proposal for several years. “The UA Athletics Committee is re-engaging DAPER on this issue now, after our survey in April 2010 revealed that 70.6 percent of club athletes report dedicating more than 5 hours a week to their club sport...” Brandt said.

Department Head of Athletics Julie Soriero said that due to staffing issues, it will be too difficult to administer such a program both strategically and fairly. She said that the option will be explored in the relatively near future, but not this year.

Students also showed interest in the ideas the UA presented in changing the Game Room. Located next to La Verde’s in the Student Center, the Game Room once currently functions as a public area with tables and couches. In the survey, a majority of students (374) voted for putting a “Smoothie / Ice Cream” store in that space. Students were also receptive to ideas including a fast food restaurant (186), arcade and video games (118), and a study area (118). Plans to start implementation have not yet started, but the UA has already begun talks with Director Phillip Walsh of the Campus Activities Complex.

Students showed some interest in moving to Maseeh Hall, the newly renovated undergraduate residence. 86 survey respondents said that they wanted to live in Maseeh Hall next fall. 110 said that they might want to live in Maseeh. Of the 196 students who are considering in living in Maseeh Hall, 43 percent are freshmen, 34 percent are sophomores, and 15 percent are juniors.

Dorms with students showing the most interest in moving to Maseeh Hall are Next House (44), Simmons (36), Baker (35), and Burton Conner (21).

According to Chair of the UA Housing Committee Daniel D. Hawkins ’12, about 40 students from the Phoenix Group will end up in Maseeh Hall in the fall. The Phoenix Group has also established “social members” of the group, who do not currently live with the Phoenix Group, but might be given housing preference during the Maseeh Hall housing process. The actual process for filling Maseeh Hall is still not known.