More than two-thirds of Brown undergraduates favor changing the name of “Columbus Day” on the University calendar, according to a Herald poll conducted earlier this month.
Though 27.2 percent of students polled indicated that they would like the holiday to remain “Columbus Day,” 67.2 percent said they would prefer changing the name. Among the options on the poll – taken from the alternative names considered by students in the months before the poll – “Fall Weekend,” which was the name proposed to the Faculty Executive Committee, garnered the most support.
45.6 percent of respondents supported keeping the holiday on the second Monday in October while changing its name to “Fall Weekend,” 8.4 percent were in favor of calling the holiday “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” and 5.3 percent suggested renaming it “Tomato Day.”
An additional 6.1 percent wanted to change both the name and the date of the holiday, and 1.8 percent supported removing the name “Columbus Day” and not observing a holiday.
The FEC has yet to officially vote on the Fall Weekend proposal, as it did not have enough votes for a quorum at its last meeting.
The Herald poll was conducted from March 16 through March 18 and has a 3.6 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence. A total of 676 Brown undergraduates completed the poll, which The Herald administered as a written questionnaire to students in the University Mail Room at J. Walter Wilson, outside the Blue Room in Faunce House and in the Sciences Library.
In light of the current financial crisis, 10.5 percent of students polled said they were very worried about their ability to continue financing their education. 27.5 percent were somewhat worried, 29.3 percent were somewhat confident and 30.9 percent were very confident.
Similarly, 10.5 percent of students felt very confident that they would be able to get the job they wanted after graduation. 23.5 percent reported being somewhat confident, 31.2 percent were somewhat worried and 14.3 percent were very worried. 15.1 percent of respondents indicated that they did not plan to get a job immediately after graduation.
The Undergraduate Council of Students enjoyed an improvement in favorability ratings since October. 51.5 percent of students strongly or somewhat approved of UCS, as compared to 38.1 percent of students who said the same thing last semester. Students who strongly or somewhat disapproved made up 13.0 percent, a statistically insignificant increase from last semester’s poll. The percentage of students who responded “Don’t know/No answer” in regard to UCS’s job performance declined from 49.3 percent in October’s poll to 35.5 percent in the new poll.
President Ruth Simmons remained consistently popular, with 80.1 percent of those polled reporting approval.
Following heavy attention – due in part to protests from Students for a Democratic Society – the Corporation’s approval ratings were at 38.7 percent. Last semester 33.7 percent indicated that they strongly or somewhat approved of the way the Corporation had been handling its job, though this difference is within the two polls’ combined margin of error.
75.9 percent of students polled reported that President Barack Obama has so far met their expectations as president. The 8.6 percent of respondents who said he has exceeded expectations was similar in size to the 7.0 percent who said he has not met expectations. Last October, 86.1 percent of students said they would support Obama’s candidacy if the election were to take place then.
Providence Mayor David Cicilline ’83 received 19.8 percent approval from undergraduates, compared to 9.2 percent disapproval. However, 71.0 percent of students polled responded “Don’t know/No answer” in response to how he was handling his job.
Though 89.8 percent of students said they have not used prescription stimulants that were not prescribed to them during this academic year, 7.9 have used them at least once this year. Since the start of last semester, 3.1 percent of respondents have used prescription stimulants exactly once, 3.7 reported using them a few times and an additional 1.1 percent reported using them more regularly.
1. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Ruth Simmons is handling her job as president of Brown University?
Strongly approve: 41.3%
Somewhat approve: 38.8%
Somewhat disapprove: 3.6%
Strongly disapprove: 1.2%
Don’t know/No answer: 15.2%
2. Do you approve or disapprove of the way the Undergraduate Council of Students (UCS) is handling its job?
Strongly approve: 10.1%
Somewhat approve: 41.4%
Somewhat disapprove: 10.9%
Strongly disapprove: 2.1%
Don’t know/No answer: 35.5%
3. Do you approve or disapprove of the way the Corporation is handlings its job as Brown’s highest governing body?
Strongly approve: 7.0%
Somewhat approve: 31.7%
Somewhat disapprove: 19.7%
Strongly disapprove: 5.0%
Don’t know/No answer: 36.7%
4. The University currently recognizes the second Monday in October as the Columbus Day holiday. There has been some discussion about changing the name or its status as a day off. How should the University respond?
Keep date & name: 27.2%
Keep date & “Fall Weekend”: 45.6%
Keep date & “Indigenous Peoples’ Day”: 8.4%
Keep date & “Tomato Day”: 5.3%
Change date & name: 6.1%
Remove name & no day off: 1.8%
Don’t know/No answer: 5.6%
5. Compared to what you expected when Barack Obama was elected President, do you think that he has done better than you expected, about the same as you expected or worse than you expected?
Better than expected: 8.6%
About the same as expected: 75.9%
Worse than expected: 7.0%
Don’t know/No answer: 8.6%
6. How confident or worried are you about getting the job you want to have after graduation?
Very confident: 10.5%
Somewhat confident: 23.5%
Somewhat worried: 31.2%
Very worried: 14.3%
Don’t plan to get job immediately: 15.1%
Don’t know/No answer: 5.3%
7. How often this academic year have you used prescription stimulants – such as Adderall, Dexedrine or Ritalin – that were not prescribed to you?
Not at all: 89.8%
A few times: 3.7%
A few times a month: 0.4%
Once a week: 0.3%
More than once a week: 0.3%
Every day: 0.1%
Don’t know/No answer: 2.2%
8. How confident or worried are you about your – or your family’s – ability to finance your Brown education?
Very confident: 30.9%
Somewhat confident: 29.3%
Somewhat worried: 27.5%
Very worried: 10.5%
Don’t know/No answer: 1.8%
9. Do you approve or disapprove of the way David Cicilline ’83 is handling his job as mayor of Providence?
Strongly approve: 4.7%
Somewhat approve: 15.1%
Somewhat disapprove: 6.4%
Strongly disapprove: 2.8%
Don’t know/No answer: 71.0%
Written questionnaires were administered to 676 undergraduates March 16-18 at the University Mail Room in J. Walter Wilson and outside the Blue Room in Faunce House in the three mornings and afternoons and at the Sciences Library on the first two nights. To ensure random sampling, pollsters approached every third person and asked each one to complete a poll. The poll has a 3.6 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence.
The sample polled was demographically similar to the Brown undergraduate population as a whole. The sample was 48.5 percent male and 51.5 percent female. First-years made up 29.0 percent of the sample, 30.5 percent were sophomores, 18.5 percent were juniors and 22.0 percent were seniors. 66.6 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 8.1 percent identified as black or African-American, 10.4 percent Hispanic, 21.6 percent Asian, 1.0 percent American Indian or Alaska Native, 0.3 percent Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, 1.5 percent identified with a racial group or ethnicity not listed and 0.9 percent chose not to answer. The sum of the percentages adds up to more than 100 percent due to respondents who identified with multiple ethnic or racial groups.
Senior Staff Writer Hannah Moser ’12 and Copy Desk Chief Seth Motel ’11 coordinated the poll. Herald section editors, senior staff writers and other staff members conducted the poll.