Student life surveys cause concern

Some Butler University students are angry about a Student Life survey sent out earlier this month to randomly selected students.

The surveys asked several personal questions, including some involving sexual orientation and biological gender.

The surveys were created by the National Association of Student Affairs and Administration and by Student Voice, an assessment company for student learning. Neither company is directly associated with Butler University or Student Life.

The surveys allow universities to receive the benchmark data they need in order to improve campuses, living situations, learning and other aspects of student life on campus.

Once the university receives the results, they are compared to the results of other universities similar in size and educational value.

“The surveys have been helpful to us,” Dean of Student Life Irene Stevens said. “We’ve used some data in presentations to faculty. If students say that they feel uncomfortable in the classroom, we let the professors know.”

Surveys, distributed by Student Voice, are divvied out among three random student groups.

Three different survey types were sent out: residence life, Greek life and service learning.

Some of the questions in these surveys did not appeal to some students, but no complaints have been filed.

Kyle Graden, a freshman business major, was offended by the personal nature of the sexual orientation question.

“The answers it provided to choose from were shocking to me,” Graden said.  “One of [the choices] was ‘queer.’ What does that even mean and how is it different from gay? And why is this information important anyway?”

Erin Holm, a sophomore elementary education major, took the Greek Life survey.

She said she thinks it was a poor decision to ask the name of the organization and then later ask questions about hazing and alcohol.

“That doesn’t seem anonymous at all,” Holm said. “I wasn’t offended, but I feel like some of the results could be falsely reported or made to look worse than they are, like the ethnicity of those who choose to go Greek.”

Students said they don’t know what these surveys are used for exactly, so the random questions about sexual orientation and Greek life have thrown some of them off.

The surveys are quite useful for the university though.

“These surveys help us know what we’re doing well,” Stevens said. “We have learned that our students are much more involved campus activities than other students at other universities. I hope students fill the surveys out, because it gives us more information to work with.”

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