Class presents poll results
Published: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 04:05
male students feel more targeted by police than females, among other student opinions on diversity and health on campus, as part of the 2012 Blue Hen Poll results Thursday in the Trabant University Center.
Political science professor David Wilson, faculty adviser to student researchers who conducted the survey, emailed the annual poll to 5,000 full-time undergraduates last month. The poll gauges student opinions on a variety of subjects selected by students in his class.
“I was surprised by a few of them, including some of the questions on diversity, the unwillingness of students to donate time or money to the university but the large number who say maybe,” Wilson said.
This year’s poll questions students’ interaction with police, the recently constructed “Wings of Thought” statue in Mentors’ Circle and diversity among students.
Andrew Hellwege, a graduate student and Wilson’s teaching assistant, said he thinks the questionnaire appeals more to students than other campus surveys, noting that almost one third of recipients took the poll.
“The 32 percent is double the average response rate for students at UD,” Hellwege said. “They’re more interested in the Blue Hen Poll.”
Hellwege said the poll took 26 minutes to complete on average and there was a 3 percent margin of error.
Senior Dan Giordano a student researcher who focused on the poll’s law enforcement section, said results showed students are more negative about Newark police than campus police. He said male students were more likely than female students to feel that they were targeted by officers.
While more freshmen feel the purpose of police is to protect them, the poll revealed seniors are more likely to feel law enforcement officials target them.
“You’ll also notice that the shift occurs during junior year, when most students turn 21,” Giordano said.
After considering the survey’s results, he said he thinks there is disconnect between police and students, especially in terms of relaying information and motives.
“Students were very frustrated by the strict enforcement of jaywalking,” he said. “I have heard stories about why it’s being so strictly enforced but that doesn’t appear to have gotten down to students.”
Senior Danielle Estill, a student researcher who focused on reasons why students choose to attend the university, studied students’ connection to the school after graduation and their predicted donation habits.
“Fifty-six percent [of respondents] were unsure about contributing money,” Estill said. “This is an important figure because that’s something that can be targeted.”
The survey found that students from Delaware are less likely to stay connected to the university than those from out-of-state.
According to the poll’s results, the most important factor to prospective students was academic reputation, with students expecting college to prepare them for life and a career.
“I definitely was surprised with some of the results,” Estill said. “It’s definitely interesting to try to find the relationships between certain questions we asked and groups on campus to see how people’s opinions differed.”
Other results from the survey revealed most students are in favor of the university becoming a completely smoke-free campus. Findings showed 68 percent of students surveyed would support a cigarette ban, and most students ranked cigarettes as the second most dangerous controlled substance on campus.
Senior Mike Brophy, who helped organize questions regarding the “Wings of Thought” statue in Mentors’ Circle, recalled hearing significant opposition from students to the sculpture while it was being constructed, but said 53 percent of respondents were unfamiliar with it.
“Seventy-seven percent [of students polled] are against having the statue in Mentors’ Circle,” Brophy said. “Also, those who opposed the statue were less likely to donate money to the university.”
Sophomore Alexandra Davis said her research focused on diversity at the university, which consists of approximately 77 percent white students. One-third of the students polled gave the university a “C” grade for diversity. The school’s lack of multiculturalism was rarely a factor in students’ decision to attend the university.
“Students just didn’t come here because it’s diverse,” Davis said.
Junior Jackie Skibicki said she was surprised at Thursday’s reveal event that 31 percent of respondents said they wished they chose to attend a different school.
“I think it is understandable with the stress level, just because I know from personal experience,” Skibicki said. “I don’t ever wish I went somewhere else, but I know that I tend to get very stressed out sometimes and I kind of wonder if it would be different at another university.”
Junior Dayna D’Amico, who attended the poll’s results presentation, said she was surprised at how informative the questionnaire was. She said, like many students surveyed, that she was unaware of the “Wings of Thought” statue.
“I haven’t even walked past that part of campus this year, so I had no idea there was a statue,” D’Amico said.
While poll organizers are uncertain whether university officials will use the results when considering changes to school policies, Estill said she believes administrators pay attention to the poll.
“I think because this whole operation is conducted by students for students—it really does speak to the administration,” she said.