Mercer administration surveys students about campus programs, safety and culture

Student Affairs is interested in the opinions of students and sent out a survey to complete yesterday. Photo by Addison Robinson.

Student Affairs is interested in the opinions of students and sent out a survey to complete yesterday. Photo by Addison Robinson.

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The Office of Student Affairs at Mercer University distributed a survey to the student body to gauge perspectives on the school’s Campus Life programs, athletic events and campus culture for the month of February.

Vice President and Dean of Students Doug Pearson, who oversees the Office of Student Affairs, said his division releases such a survey every two years.

“This information is critical in evaluating just how well we are providing student services,” Pearson said in an email to The Cluster on Feb. 20. “But it also tells how our students spend their time and what we can do to improve safety and the campus culture. So this survey is important, and I encourage every student to fill it out.”

Pearson said the data gathered through student responses will inspire change on campus.

“My staff and I will dig into this data this summer, and from that we will create an action plan to improve our programs and services over the next two years,” he said.

The questions range from whether students feel Mercer programs have supported them in leadership development, how satisfied students are with events offered around campus and whether students feel supported at school.

Questions also asked students to rate their experiences with Minority Affairs, Housing and Residence Life and ACCESS and Accommodations.

A category of questions about mental health asks whether respondents had, or knew a peer who had, thoughts of self-injury or suicide. It also asks them to measure their familiarity with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and rate their perceptions of staff as well as indicate how long they had waited for their first appointment.

Other questions in the survey ask whether “the Mercer campus is supportive of diversity and inclusion (related to) gender, cultural and racial diversity” and whether respondents have experienced or observed a racist or culturally insensitive act on campus.

The survey’s emphasis on students’ personal experiences with sensitive issues resonated with members of Mercer’s LGBT advocacy organization Common Ground.

Secretary Faith McColl posted in the club’s Facebook group to say that President McPherson Newell encouraged members to take the survey.

“It took (five to) 10 minutes, and they had some important questions about whether you’ve experienced or witnessed a racist act on campus (and) whether you feel that campus is safe for gender, sexuality, religious and racial minorities,” McColl said.

Pearson said the data gathered in the survey will be collected and analyzed by his staff over the summer. The Cluster requested to receive the data once compiled for follow-up reporting.

“I can not think of a reason why we wouldn’t share it eventually, but am not sure I want to share it before my staff has thoroughly reviewed and digested the data,” Pearson said.

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