Students see dining hall working conditions, mental health and problems with residential halls as the most pressing issues on campus, according to the results of the Undergraduate Council of Students’ fall poll released this week.
UCS administers a poll every fall to get insights into student opinions and spark a discussion between University officials and students, said John Lin ’23, one of the UCS polling directors. This year, the poll was conducted between Nov. 10 and Dec. 10.
Just over 36% of the undergraduate student body, or 2,480 students, responded to the poll. In order to get this high response rate, Lin and Lucca Paris ’24, the other UCS polling head, used the Class Coordinating Board Instagram, Today@Brown, campus newsletters and several other platforms to urge students to fill out the poll, Lin said.
According to Lin, the poll focuses on “topical questions” relevant to the discussions currently happening on campus. The polling directors also conducted an anonymous survey within UCS where council members identified priorities of interest, which helped the poll heads determine the topics included in the poll, he said.
After they analyzed poll results, Lin and Paris met with University administrators across campus — such as Brown Dining Services and Health Services — to present the data they collected. Having this data was helpful in making more compelling arguments about why students would want certain policies, Lin said.
This year’s poll results highlighted student opinions on various members of the administration and campus departments. Only 11% of poll respondents approved of Paxson while 44% had no opinion or were neutral and 20% disapproved. The remainder did not respond.
The poll also found dissatisfaction with the University’s Counseling and Psychological Services. Only 10% of respondents were “somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied,” while 20% were either “somewhat dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied.” The remainder were neutral, did not respond to the question or did not use CAPS. Some respondents indicated that they wanted online scheduling opportunities, quicker responses and a focus on long-term care, according to the UCS poll report.
Additionally, 44% of respondents to the poll who reported having mental health concerns did not use CAPS.
More respondents were satisfied than were dissatisfied with the other University services asked about in the fall poll, which included Health Services, Facilities Management and Student Accessibility Services.
Student respondents also reported issues with conditions in residential halls, with 89% of on-campus students reporting that they faced issues with laundry machines and 52% facing problems with restrooms.
Forty-three percent of respondents were concerned with the quality of dining hall food, 45% were concerned with long waiting times in dining halls and 52% were worried about understaffed dining halls. But many respondents were also pleased with the clean dining environment, the hardworking staff and the overall dining atmosphere, according to the report.
The report notes that “if students are interested in proposing any changes to
available meals, they are encouraged to contact Michelle Blais, … who currently serves as the director of wellness and nutrition.”
Respondents also expressed interest in buildings being open to students for longer periods of time. Common responses to an open-ended question about which buildings should be open for longer included the Nelson Fitness Center, dining halls, Barus and Holley and the Blue Room, according to the report.
The poll also found that “CCB and UCS had +23% and +17% net satisfaction rating,” according to the report. “Overall, respondents reported wanting more transparency, less bureaucracy, more inclusivity and more engagement with the student body.”
Nearly 50% of respondents said they were excited to attend Spring Weekend, though several respondents noted dissatisfaction with past selection of artists, according to the report. For a free-response question about what artists students would like to see at Spring Weekend, the top three responses were Doja Cat, Taylor Swift and Mitski.
“We’re proud of the work we did,” Lin said. “We think it follows a long legacy of Brown UCS trying to understand what (student) issues are.”