University poll to present findings Thursday
Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 02:05
The results of the fifth annual Blue Hen Poll will be released Thursday as part of research conducted by undergraduate students at the university. The poll measures students’ perception of topics such as the “Wings of Thought” statue in Mentors’ Circle, university President Patrick Harker’s approval rating and representation from the Student Government Association.
Political science professor David Wilson, the faculty adviser for the Blue Hen Poll Research team since its creation in 2008, stated in an email message that he helps collect student opinions regarding university-related issues.
“I’m involved because my expertise is in survey methods and polling, and I want to share those skills with undergraduates at UD,” Wilson said. “Basically, I want students to know that doing research and statistical analysis isn’t scary.”
The Blue Hen Poll research team worked with the Office of Institutional Research to select a sample of 5,000 students, including each minority student on the Newark campus and a random sample of white and international students.
The online survey began on March 11 and continued through April 9, resulting in 1,607 responses.
Senior Mike Brophy, a member of the Blue Hen Poll research team, said he hopes to give administrators an idea of how students feel about university-related issues so they can make adjustments to school policies.
“There’s no other poll on campus that polls the student body on a wide variety of issues like the Blue Hen Poll does,” Brophy said.
Brophy said he was interested in polling respondents about their opinion of the “Wings of Thought” statue, which was placed in Mentors’ Circle in March. He was surprised that of the 1,247 students who answered one of the poll’s questions about the sculpture, 47.2 percent said they were unfamiliar with it.
“A lot of people have strong feelings about it,” he said. “But half of the student body doesn’t even know what it is.”
Poll results showed that 93 to 94 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the university.
In 2011, poll results showed that 68.8 percent of respondents gave Harker a grade of “A” or “B” while the 2012 poll showed that 56 percent of students who responded to the same question gave Harker’s work performance an above-average grade.
Brophy said research team members are currently using data analysis software to see what correlations in the results are statistically significant.
He said research team members developed the survey by reviewing the results of previous Blue Hen Polls and considering current issues on campus. While the class chose poll questions in February, the administration announced the “Wings of Thought” statue in March, which became a topic of discussion on campus and a set of questions in the Blue Hen Poll.
“There are some questions that get asked every year and then we try to come up with other ones that are relevant to the student body right now,” Brophy said.
The 2012 poll also asked more questions about political awareness on campus and whether students identified with a political party because of the upcoming presidential election, he said.
This year’s results reveal that 62 percent of respondents are at least somewhat interested in politics and 84.3 percent plan on voting in the 2012 presidential election.
The 2012 Blue Hen Poll said 86.4 percent of respondents pay very little to no attention at all to the activities of SGA. More than half of respondents said that the organization was also unresponsive to student concerns.
Senior Dan Giordano, a member of the research team, focused on law enforcement data, which included questions about student interactions, perceptions and experiences with Newark and campus police.
Results indicate 32.8 percent of respondents say they have had negative interactions with campus police and 44.1 percent have had negative interactions with Newark Police.
The 2011 poll did not measure student opinion of Newark police, but revealed that 75.5 percent of respondents were satisfied with university police and 91.2 percent of respondents felt safe on campus.
The “Sound Off” section of the poll, an open-ended segment that received approximately 500 responses, helped the research team determine what issues students were particularly concerned about, Giordano said.
“Of those issues that were most discussed in the Sound Off, by far jaywalking was the most, followed by parking,” he said. “The third issue was the tailgating experience apparently was really stifled considerably, according to the students.”
Some respondents indicated that they don’t think police officers treat them like adults and are unfairly targeted by police officers, he said.
“To see that 37 percent of students are contributing to an 89 percent increase in revenues from parking is obviously not because students have begun ignoring [the law],” Giordano said. “Something is going on.”