University News

Student approval of Simmons rises

By
Contributing Writer
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
This article is part of the series Fall 2011 Student Poll

In the wake of her September announcement that she plans to step down at the end of this academic year, President Ruth Simmons remains a popular figure in the eyes of students. Her job approval rating among students increased from last semester’s rating of 62.4 percent to 68.2 percent, according to the most recent Herald poll.

Of the 68.2 percent who indicated they approve of Simmons, 38.4 percent strongly approve and 29.8 percent somewhat approve. Around 20 percent indicated they were not familiar enough to answer, down from 25 percent recorded in last semester’s poll.

The percentage of students who disapprove of Simmons’ job as president stayed relatively steady, dropping from 4.75 percent last year to 4.5 percent. Students told The Herald last semester that their disapproval stemmed in part from Simmons’ position on the board of the Goldman Sachs group.

About six percent of students held no opinion this semester on Simmons’ presidency.

The results of the student poll differ somewhat from that of the faculty poll conducted earlier in the semester. Of the 174 faculty responses, 72.5 percent approved of Simmons’ job and 18.3 percent disapproved. Around 7 percent of the faculty was not familiar enough to answer.

Some students attributed the rise in Simmons’ approval rating to her impending resignation.

“I absolutely think that it is due to President Simmons’ imminent departure,” said Joshua Prenner ’14. “I think that because we know she is only with us for so much longer, we’re inclined to value all that she has given us, more so than we usually do.”

“You don’t know what you got until it’s gone,” said Vitto Di Vaio ’14.

Lily Goodspeed ’13 questioned the significance of the percentage boost. “Six percent is also not that much of a percentage increase. But I think people are realizing that she’s leaving and appreciating what she does do,” she said.

The large percentage of students that were not familiar enough to answer stems from “a disconnect between Brown students and what’s going on in the higher bureaucracy and what the decisions being made are,” Goodspeed said. “The Corporation has no transparency at all.”

Laken Hottle ’13 also ascribed the lack of student opinion to the somewhat classified nature of Simmons’ position. “A lot of Brown students don’t actually know what’s going on beside the fact that she is president,” she said.

 

Methodology

Written questionnaires were administered to 851 undergraduates Nov. 2-3 in the lobby of J. Walter Wilson and the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center during the day and the Sciences Library at night. The poll has a 3.1 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence.

Find results of previous polls at thebdh.org/poll.

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