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Kaley Bent / Gavel Media

Student Experience Survey Summary Identifies Areas for Improvement

Boston College's Office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment released a summary of the findings from the Student Experience Survey on Thursday.

The survey collected responses from 2,417 undergraduate students, or 26% of the student body. The survey was produced by a team of students, faculty, and administrators after the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) passed the Resolution Concerning Bias-Related Incidents in October 2017.

The resolution—which was passed after student outcry when multiple accounts of racist incidents at BC were shared on social media—called for a "comprehensive survey that evaluates the needs and captures the concerns of students, specifically marginalized populations." In particular, the resolution emphasized the need for more consideration of the experiences of students of color, students who identify as GLBTQIAP+, female students, students from low-income backgrounds, students who have disabilities, and students who are undocumented at BC.

The Student Experience Survey ultimately consisted of questions regarding the university's mission, community, culture, academics, and student resources. According to the summary introduction, the survey provides data about the BC experience "but does not allow for comparisons with peer institutions."

According to the overall results, students expressed satisfaction with their decisions to attend BC. About 86% of the students surveyed stated that they would recommend BC to others, and three out of four students stated that they would choose BC again if they could start over.

However, students who identify as AHANA+ or LGBTQ+, as well as students from low-income backgrounds, expressed lower satisfaction with the culture and overall experience at the university, particularly in response to questions about having a sense of belonging at BC.

The summary highlighted that the majority of students have favorable experiences with the Jesuit approach to education and participate in retreats, weekly reflections, volunteering, and faith-based services on campus.

Additionally, the majority of respondents reported satisfaction with regards to university services, including extracurricular and career opportunities, health, counseling, and financial aid. However, the housing lottery and campus food options stood out as two areas with lower student satisfaction.

While nine out of 10 students expressed satisfaction with the quality of teaching, students also reported academic and social pressures, including high competition, peer pressure, and alcohol use.

Further, students reported observing the most unfair treatment or harassment in the past year that was based on race, ethnicity, political views, and gender. The majority of Black or African American students responded that "they had both observed and experienced unfair treatment/harassment based on race/ethnicity."

The survey also revealed that international students and LGBTQ+ identifying students experience higher levels of unfair treatment or harassment due to their identities.

Although a majority of students (95%) stated that diversity is important, less than half of students who identify as Black or African American said that they agreed with the statements "my courses include diverse perspectives" and "the BC community welcomes open discussions about issues of difference."

More than half of respondents stated they have had meaningful discussions with people from different socioeconomic, racial/ethnic, and religious backgrounds at BC. Nevertheless, the majority of the respondents expressed support for the idea of establishing more inclusive and integrative programming to provide more opportunities to engage in discussions about diversity.

In response to a question about what students "would change about BC," more than 450 students wrote about the need to improve how the university addresses diversity and inclusion.

“I think the fact that the culture is so homogeneous is an issue," said one student's reflection, which was included in the summary. "Students lose out on real world experience and exposure to different perspectives by virtue of going to a school that is so uniform."

"I think that the school needs to make a more concerted effort to diversify or, at the very least, facilitate discussion about race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, etc., in order to create a more inclusive, more aware campus," the student continued.

Moving forward, the survey summary states that the university-wide Diversity Steering Committee, which consists of administrators, faculty, staff, and students, will review the results and propose initiatives which respond to major issues presented by the Student Experience Survey.

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