DSG Surveys Students

Academics are the best part of the Duke experience, but students want more interactions with faculty members outside the classroom. Social life is suffering, with students frustrated by a lack of on-campus programming and by policies related to Greek life and alcohol. Duke students feel disconnected from administrators and want more opportunities to give feedback on university policies. These are among the findings of a recently released survey of more than 550 Duke undergraduates.

The "Visions of Duke" survey, conducted by Duke Student Government in the spring of 2003, asked students four open-ended questions: What's "right" about Duke? What's "wrong" about Duke? Describe the ideal Duke. What steps should be taken and changes made to realize your ideal?

An eleven-page report summarizing the results covers a variety of subjects, including confusion about Curriculum 2000, concern over "constant construction," annoyance at the high price of parking permits, and support for keeping Krzyzewskiville a student-led initiative.

"The most important--and interesting--finding of the survey was the students' idea of a Duke identity and the seemingly strong resistance to becoming what is perceived to be an Ivy League university," says senior Rick Garcia, DSG's director of student services. "It's a resistance that Terry Sanford spoke of thirty years ago, and one that students still hold strongly today. From these results, there is a strong desire to maintain that unique identity that we have--admitting 'well-balanced' students who are both academically brilliant and seek a strong social scene."

DSG President Matt Slovik, also a senior, found another aspect of the report particularly interesting, and troubling--that students say they become increasingly disenchanted the more time they spend at Duke. The report, he says, has been shared with trustees, senior administrators, and student leaders. His hope is that it will lead to open discussion and then action, not only by the administration, but also by undergraduate groups that represent student interests. "We wanted to give students a chance to speak in their own words, and this is exactly what they have done," Slovik says. "From here, I would like to see DSG, the administration, and students across campus work to improve on some of the areas which students said were not where they would like them to be."

Slovik says DSG will propose initiatives to address some of the concerns raised in the survey. Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, says his staff is studying the survey and discussing it with students. "Student feedback is critical in all that we do, and we always welcome discussion and debate about where we're going," Moneta says.

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