Columbia students have demonstrated a significant increase in satisfaction with housing and space, while their satisfaction with areas such as fitness services and the administration remains low or has decreased since 2015, results from the 2017-2018 Student Quality of Life report show.
With previous iterations in 2013 and 2015, the Student Quality of Life survey is conducted every two years by the University Senate’s Student Affairs Committee. Senator Izzet Kebudi, SEAS ’19, and member of the SAC, presented a summary of this year’s results at the most recent Senate plenary.
Using the survey, the SAC produces a report that outlines the survey’s results and presents broad recommendations based on its findings, the official version of which is set to be released early this week.
The survey was distributed to a total of 19 schools, including 16 Columbia schools, as well as Barnard College, Teachers College, and Union Theological Seminary, and received a total of 11,796 responses, a 36.3 percent response rate.
According to the report, there has been a rise in the overall number of satisfied students, from 68.9 percent in 2015 to 79.3 percent in 2017. The mean satisfaction on a scale of one (very dissatisfied) to seven (very satisfied) also increased from 4.94 to 5.4.
Students were generally more satisfied (satisfaction rate of over 60 percent) with categories such as safety, academics, technology, housing, and quality of space, and less satisfied with availability of space, funding, fitness services, and administration. However, students in underrepresented demographics, such as students with disabilities and LGBTQ+ students, showed less satisfaction than their peers across the majority of these areas.
Housing has seen the largest growth in student satisfaction, with a 75.6 percent overall satisfaction rate in 2017 as compared to a 52 percent in 2015. Students with Columbia-affiliated housing were also asked to rate their satisfaction across five sub-categories, among which access (including transportation and commute) showed the most satisfaction, and amenities (laundry, temperature, etc.) the least.
Further analysis based on disability status also found that students with disabilities reported a lower overall satisfaction with housing. Some written responses suggested that this disparity was due to issues with physical accessibility, including the lack of elevators and accessible entrances. To combat these issues, the report recommended improvements with accessibility and amenities, as well as an extension of the campus move-out period.
In contrast, students expressed the least amount of satisfaction with the administration, which saw a slight decrease from 37.9 percent satisfaction in 2015 to 37.2 percent in 2017. In particular, students were least satisfied with the administration’s accessibility, specifically citing a detachment from administrators and a lack of follow-through on student requests or needs.
As a result, the report’s recommendations regarding the administration are focused on increasing the interaction between students and administration, specifically in allocating more resources toward initiatives that foster this connection in a non-academic setting. The report also advocated for an increased student involvement in administrative decisions, with the SAC looking for more ways to include non-Senate students on boards and committees.
Fitness services saw a similarly low 38 percent overall satisfaction, with students finding the least satisfaction from fitness classes. To improve fitness services, the report advised that Columbia seek to make services more affordable, improve the facilities in Dodge Gymnasium, and increase promotion of available resources.