The Brown Daily Herald Poll: Students like Simmons and arming, oppose pluses/minuses

Students largely oppose the recent proposal to include pluses and minuses in the University’s grading system, according to a poll conducted last week by The Herald.

Only 24.6 percent of respondents said they liked the idea of adding pluses and minuses to the curriculum immediately, versus 70 percent who disapproved. 47.8 percent of respondents strongly disapproved of the proposal, versus only 7.5 percent who strongly approved of it.

Those responses shifted only slightly when students were asked if they liked the idea of adding pluses and minuses only for future classes to enter Brown: 27.4 percent approved of that idea, while 63.6 percent disapproved.

Sixty percent of Brown undergraduates support the recent arming of Department of Public Safety police officers, which took place Jan. 11 after a two-year process of preparation and training. Arming met with strong approval from 18.9 percent of students, and another 41.1 said they somewhat approved of it. Only 30.7 percent of respondents disapproved of the move.

Students’ opinions on arming seem to have undergone a dramatic shift since April 2003, when 56.1 percent of students opposed the idea, according to a Herald poll conducted at the time. 34.1 percent of students supported arming in that poll, which was conducted using a different method than the current poll and had a 7 percent margin of error.

Of the 38 percent of respondents who said they receive financial aid from Brown, 62 percent said they were very or somewhat satisfied with their aid packages, while 36.9 percent said they were very or somewhat dissatisfied.

Students overwhelmingly approved of President Ruth Simmons – 86.7 percent of respondents said they approved of the way she is doing her job, while only 4.9 percent disapproved.

Brown students were also enthusiastic about Providence: 19.8 percent of respondents said they loved the city, and another 54.4 percent said they liked it. 19.2 percent said they had mixed feelings about the Renaissance City, while 3 percent said they disliked it and 2.3 percent said they hated it.

Student support for the Undergraduate Council of Students was more modest. Last week UCS reshuffled its executive board in the wake of the departure of three senior members, including former President Brian Bidadi ’06, who is on medical leave.

53.5 percent of respondents said they approve of the job UCS has done this academic year, but 34.5 percent said they did not have an opinion about UCS, a much higher percentage of null responses than found on any other question on the poll. 12 percent of respondents said they disapprove of UCS’ performance.

The poll also provided a snapshot of the political makeup of Brown’s left-leaning campus. 62.8 percent of respondents said they consider themselves Democrats, versus only 5 percent who said they are Republicans. 4.8 percent identified with the Green Party and 20.3 percent identified as Independents or as members of another party.

The poll, conducted from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3, has a 4.6 percent margin of error.