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Stud gov. issues survey over break

Joseph McMahon | Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Student government unveiled its new survey, which attempts to gauge reaction to a number of issues, including trust in the Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) and how students feel about stadium security over Fall Break in an e-mail sent to the entire student body.Senate Committee on Student Outreach chair Sarah Rodts said 2,363 people had taken the survey as of early Monday evening, adding that 92 percent of students who began the survey finished it. “One of the concerns with a long survey was that people would stop taking it,” she said.Rodts said the survey will help student government, especially Senate committees, focus on issues most important to students.”We really wanted to nail down the initiatives we were taking a look at for the year. It really helps the committees focus on what they’re going to be doing and what the student body wants to happen,” she said. “This survey will really help everybody narrow down what they want to work on and I think it will help them because these will be things that the students really want so there will be a little more drive behind it.”Student body president Bob Reish said he was pleased by how many students had already completed the survey, and was surprised by some of the results. “It was a way to say ‘We think this is what the students want, let’s make sure.’ And some of the results were contradictory to what we were initially hoping,” he said. “We’re going to use it as another measuring stick. It definitely won’t be the end all.”Reish said the survey was not released earlier because he wanted to ensure it was flawless.”I wanted to make sure it was right. We could have easily rushed it out as soon as we got back to campus,” he said.Although Reish refused to release many of the initial figures due to fear they would sway people who had not yet completed the survey, he said one figure that especially surprised him was that 89.9 percent of students were very interested in an online syllabus database.”That was something Grant and I had on our original platform, but then it kind of took a backseat because we really didn’t get much of a response from that from the student body during our campaign,” he said.Reish said he could use those overwhelming figures in convincing the Registrar’s Office and the Notre Dame faculty.”It gives us power in numbers,” he said. “Now showing that 90 percent of the students actually care, we can take that to the Registrar’s Office and the professors and try to get this done.”Reish also said they had received over 1,800 suggestions for speakers for the “Last Lecture” series, with University President Emeritus Fr. Ted Hesburgh and Anthropology professor James McKenna being the top two vote getters.”There were a lot of other suggestions [for the ‘Last Lecture’ series] too that we weren’t talking about initially,” Rodts said.Reish said he was also surprised that there was an even distribution among all four classes.”I thought for sure there would maybe be more freshmen who were interested or maybe more seniors who were interested in leaving their mark, but really it was consistent,” he said.Reish said the possibility of winning an iPod or a gift certificate to Chipotle may have encouraged some to finish the survey, but was convinced many took it to aid student government’s efforts.”I think the incentive helped, but I think a lot of students were just generally interested in student government,” he said. “Given the opportunity, students are willing to have their voice heard.”Reish said he had one more survey planned for next semester.”I think the idea we had with the breaks worked out pretty well, and because we want to do one a semester, we’re looking at doing one over spring break,” he said.Rodts said she hoped the survey will be conducted once every semester, arguing it would allow the University to collect a lot of useful data about its students.”I think this is a good starting point. If this continues over the next 10 years it will definitely be helpful to the University on things like student safety,” she said.The survey is open until 12 a.m. Saturday.