Students may be used to ignoring emails asking them to fill out a survey about the latest Student Government (SG) initiative, but SG is working on more effective ways to reach out to the campus population.
Focused more on social media and in-person connection approaches, these changes are in response to low survey results and response bias.
Suzane Nazir, the Senate relations chair for the legislative branch of SG, is at the forefront of the changes to the way surveys will be organized.
“The way surveys work in Student Government is a student, any student, comes to us about an issue,” Nazir said. “For example, a couple years back a student wanted a new vending machine. She came to us with an idea, and she wanted to survey the student body. She sent in a series of questions that she’d like to be asked, and the relations committee worked on the questions to make sure they aren’t biased in any way. Once done, our advising office would post it on BullSync.”
An issue Nazir found within the old survey system was that only people with personal stakes in the issue participated.
“The problem that I saw was response bias,” Nazir said. “The people who were really passionate about an issue would go and respond, and the people who think it’s terrible would respond. That’s not a good representation of the student body.”
Meeting people face-to-face is the best way to have them understand an issue, according to Nazir. A large part of SG’s survey revamping will be centered around in-person connections — asking students at random around campus.
“This year, I wanted to stray away from BullSync and to directly survey students,” Nazir said. “We’re creating a ‘Student Concerns’ page which I’m working on right now. Every week we’d be targeting different areas of campus … to target different demographics and get a more accurate representation of students.”
Nazir said the "Student Concerns" page will be posted on social media when it’s completed and any student who has a concern can utilize it to make SG aware of a situation.
As well as meeting students in popular spots around campus, Nazir also plans on hosting at least two “town hall” inspired events each semester in which students can ask senators questions and make student leaders aware of certain issues.
Nazir is looking to also meet with the student organizations who vote on potential issues.
“In order to get a more personal conversation going, I’ve been talking to the (Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement) and generating a list of different student organizations based on demographic,” Nazir said. “Having senators go to their meetings and announcements or having a face-to-face conversation with these club members is very important. That’s their comfort zone, and they’re usually willing to talk to us about issues, especially if it’s an issue that impacts their organization.”
In addition to the surveys, SG is also looking to update its petition system, an action in which any student can pitch an idea for the campus. According to Nazir, petitions need 2.5 percent of the student body signatures to be passed into the SG Senate, from which it is internally voted upon.
Besides meeting students in person in order to hear their concerns, a push for stronger social media presence will also be in place.
“I really want to get more active with our Student Government Facebook account,” Nazir said. “I want to do a better job of promoting that because one post a day or two posts in two weeks isn’t ideal.”
With these new changes in place, Nazir is hopeful for the future of student surveys on campus.
“People don’t care if you say, ‘please fill this survey out,’” Nazir said. “People must have a personal connection to the things they’re voting on. Having this new system of one-on-one conversations and holding events where you’re actually explaining the background of it and explaining how these surveys impact them as students, I think it’s really going to help.”