University News

Aid money, advising split student opinion

By and
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
This article is part of the series Herald Poll

The overwhelming majority of undergraduates support the University’s new financial aid policy, a recent Herald poll found.

92.7 percent of undergrads approve of the new financial aid plan. When asked about the University’s decision to ease the financial burden on students from lower- and middle-income families, 71.7 percent said they strongly approve of the new policy, and another 21.0 percent said they somewhat approve.

The Herald poll was conducted from March 12 to 14 and has a 3.6 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence. A total of 643 Brown undergraduates completed the poll, which was administered as a written questionnaire to students in the University Post Office at Faunce House and in the Sciences Library.

Students were more evenly divided on the question of whether to expand financial aid to include more students or increase aid to those already receiving it. 49.1 percent thought the University should offer aid to more students, while 37.2 percent thought it is more important for Brown to increase aid to students already receiving it.

Another possible investment, a new dormitory, proved less popular with undergrads than financial aid spending. 72.2 percent said they thought the University should spend its money on financial aid, while 19.1 percent preferred the option of a new dorm.

In the 2008 presidential campaign, Sen. Barack Obama’s support on campus among undergrads jumped significantly since last semester, from 37.5 percent last November, according to a Herald poll conducted then, to 63.8 percent now. Sen. Hillary Clinton’s support changed little – last November, 18.4 percent of students supported her in the presidential race, while this semester’s poll found 17.3 percent of students backing her for president.

Sen. John McCain, who has effectively captured the Republican nomination, garnered 7.2 percent of the student body’s support, up from 1 percent last semester.

The number of students who said they volunteered for a presidential campaign has almost doubled, though it still remains small – 10.9 percent this semester as opposed to 5.6 from the last.

The plurality of students who filled out the poll reported that they attend class quite often. 44.0 percent said they did not skip class at all the week before the poll, and another 30.9 percent said they had only missed one class that week. 18.8 percent said they missed class two to three times the previous week.

Academic advising proved to be a polarizing issue, with the student body split almost evenly on its satisfaction with advising at Brown.

49.2 percent of respondents said they were satisfied and 48.8 percent said they were dissatisfied with academic advising, with exactly the same percentages of students – 37.8 percent – saying they were somewhat satisfied and somewhat dissatisfied.

More than half of the respondents said they do not use the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center more than once a month.

33.4 percent said they never use it, and 19.6 percent responded that they generally go less than once per month. But another 34.4 percent of respondents said they use the OMAC at least once a week.

Though President Ruth Simmons remains popular among students, her approval rating dropped slightly – 81.2 percent of students said they approve of the way she has been handling her job as president, versus 84.9 percent who approved in the Herald poll taken last November.

3.3 percent of students said they somewhat disapproved and 1.1 percent strongly disapproved, while another 14.3 percent had no opinion.

Support for the Undergraduate Council of Students remained fairly constant, barely changing from 39.3 percent last semester who said they approved to 39.6 percent this semester.

But the percentage of students who said they didn’t know or had no opinion of how UCS is handling its job increased, from 31.6 percent last semester to 35.1 percent now.

 

Herald Poll results

1. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Ruth Simmons is handling her job as president of Brown University?

Strongly Approve – 40.1 percent

Somewhat Approve – 41.1 percent

Somewhat Disapprove – 3.3 percent

Strongly Disapprove – 1.1 percent

Don’t Know/No Answer – 14.5 percent

2. Do you approve or disapprove of the way the Undergraduate Council of Students (UCS) is handling its job?

Strongly Approve – 4.8 percent

Somewhat Approve – 34.8 percent

Somewhat Disapprove – 18.8 percent

Strongly Disapprove – 6.4 percent

Don’t Know/No Answer – 35.1 percent

3. Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with academic advising at Brown?

Very Satisfied – 11.4 percent

Somewhat Satisfied – 37.8 percent

Somewhat Dissatisfied – 37.8 percent

Very Dissatisfied – 11.0 percent

Don’t Know/No Answer – 2.0 percent

4. How many times did you skip class last week?

None – 44.0 percent

Once – 30.9 percent

2-3 times – 18.8 percent

4 times – 2.3 percent

5 times or more – 3.4 percent

I did not go to class last week – 0.2 percent

Don’t Know/No Answer – 0.3 percent

6. If the 2008 presidential election were held today, which candidate would you vote for?

Hillary Clinton – 17.3 percent

John McCain – 7.2 percent

Ralph Nader – 0.9 percent

Barack Obama – 63.8 percent

Other – 2.6 percent

Don’t Know/No Answer

7. At any point, have you worked for the campaign of one of the candidates for the 2008 presidential election?

Yes – 10.9 percent

No – 88.0 percent

Don’t Know/No Answer – 1.1 percent

8. On average, how often do you use the Olney Margolies Athletic Center (OMAC)?

Never – 33.4 percent

Fewer than once per month – 19.6 percent

1-3 times per month – 12.6 percent

Once a week – 10.3 percent

2-4 times per week – 14.9 percent

5 or more times a week – 8.6 percent

Don’t Know/No Answer – 0.6 percent

The University recently approved the use of $11 million to improve its financial aid offerings next year, increasing the total budget for financial aid by about 20 percent. Beginning in the fall, students whose families make less than $100,000 a year will not have to take out loans, and most students whose families make less than $60,000 will not have to make any financial contribution. All those currently receiving financial aid will have smaller loans than they have now.

9. Do you approve or disapprove of the University’s decision?

Strongly Approve – 71.7 percent

Somewhat Approve – 21.0 percent

Somewhat Disapprove – 3.0 percent

Strongly Disapprove – 1.2 percent

Don’t Know/No Answer – 3.1 percent

10. Do you think the University should focus on expanding financial aid to include more students or on increasing financial aid to those who already receive it?

Include more students – 49.1 percent

Increase aid to those already receiving it – 37.2 percent

Don’t Know/No Answer – 13.8 percent

11. In the future, do you think the University should prioritize increased financial aid or the construction of a new dorm?

Increased financial aid – 72.2 percent

Construction of a new dorm – 19.1 percent

Don’t Know/No Answer – 8.7 percent

 

Methodology

Written questionnaires were administered to 643 undergraduates from March 12 to 14 at the University Post Office in Faunce House in the morning and afternoon and at the Sciences Library at night. To ensure random sampling, pollsters approached every third person and asked if he or she would like to complete a poll. The poll has a 3.6 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence. On March 13, lines for Spring Weekend tickets went through the Post Office. Pollsters stood in one place and included students in line who passed them when counting out every third passerby.

The sample polled was demographically similar to the Brown undergraduate population as a whole. The sample was 47.6 percent male and 52.4 percent female. Freshmen made up 29.7 percent of the sample, 30 percent were sophomores, 15.2 percent were juniors and 24.9 percent were seniors. 64.7 perc
ent of respondents identified themselves as white, 6.5 percent identified as black or African-American, 8.7 percent Hispanic, 19 percent Asian, 1.0 percent American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.9 percent Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, 3.4 percent identified with a racial group or ethnicity not listed and 2 percent chose not to answer. The sum of the percentages add up to more than 100 percent because of respondents who identified with multiple ethnic or racial groups.

News Editors Isabel Gottlieb ’10 and Franklin Kanin ’10 coordinated the poll. Herald section editors, senior staff writers and staff writers administered the poll.