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Samantha Lucy

Students identify key concerns in annual survey

By Fabian Mayer, July 30 2015 —

The Students’ Union presented its annual survey to Students’ Legislative Council last week. The survey asked students a broad range of questions, from how many hours they work per week to whether they follow the SU on social media.

Just over 1,300 students responded to the survey. It was administered in January and February of 2015.

SU president Levi Nilson said the survey helps the SU decide what issues to prioritize.

“It basically informs what we do as the SU. It informs what we advocate on, what programs and services we offer and what we ask for from the university,” Nilson said.

When asked what issues the SU should lobby the government on, 83.6 per cent of respondents identified affordability and accessibility of education. Nilson said this was something that really jumped out at him.

“Definitely the emphasis that affordability and accessibility played with people,” Nilson said. “There was hundreds of responses about market modifiers and tuition.”

The survey also asked students where they think the SU should prioritize its spending. Top responses included study space (69 per cent), scholarships and awards (65 per cent) and the quality of teaching (55 per cent).

Nilson said the SU has already put a lot of effort into improving study space on campus, but that they will keep promoting study spot alternatives to the popular Taylor Family Digital Library.

Another question asked how students would improve the U of C experience if money was not a factor. Over 60 per cent of students said facilities and infrastructure, while about 45 per cent said the quality of student life. Nilson attributes this  second number to other factors in students’ lives.

“It’s tough for students to get engaged in student life activities on campus if they’re spending so much more time working. Every year we see more people spending more hours of the week working,” Nilson said.

Students who rent are seeing their costs of living rise. In 2013, about 25 per cent of renters paid more than $600 a month in rent. In 2015 it was over 40 per cent. Nilson said that housing is one issue where the SU can only do so much.

“Basically just trying to let councillors and the province know that housing is just not good, that’s one thing we can do. But solutions have to come from other levels,” Nilson said.

Many of the questions are open ended and then coded into different categories.

Nilson said he was generally impressed by how comprehensively many of the questions were answered. However, not all of the responses were usable.

“There was one person who answered ‘yo mama’ to every single question,” Nilson said. “That one just kind of gets thrown out.”

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