Quality of Life Survey
At Friday’s University Senate Plenary, four student senators – Marc Heinrich (Columbia College), Ramis Wadood (Columbia College), Emily Moore (SEAS Grad Students), and Grace Kelley (Nursing School) – gave an in-depth presentation on the quality of life survey sent out last year. General information has already been distributed by the Senate, but the presentation at Friday’s plenary focused on key areas of concern from the data.
Forty-one percent of the respondents to the survey were male, 58% were female, and 1% were transgender/genderqueer. Most aspects of quality of life that students rated high-priority also had high satisfaction ratings, with the major exception of funding.
Students with disabilities – The senators noted significantly lower rates of satisfaction and significantly higher rates of self-reported discrimination among disabled students. Eight percent of the survey respondents self-identified as disabled and 54% of those students said they received disability services. Kelley said these numbers mean that a lot of disabled students are not receiving disability services, and she said that disabled students had neutral satisfaction towards these services.
On average, disabled students reported around 14 days of mental health problems, whereas non-disabled students reported only around 7 days. Students with disabilities also reported higher numbers of days where they felt anxiety, experienced depression, and did not get enough sleep.
In order to help disabled students, the student senators recommended increasing accessibility within the Morningside Heights campus; improving communications between disabled students, their professors, and Disability Services; and improved accessibility information when events are advertised. The Senate has created a subcommittee focused on students with disabilities.
On the topic of mental health, Physicians and Surgeons tenured senator Michael Rosen suggested comparing Columbia undergrads with the larger population of the same age range.
Transgender/genderqueer students – Transgender/genderqueer students reported significantly lower satisfaction in the mental health category, and those who also self-identify as disabled had particularly low levels of overall satisfaction.
In order to help transgender and genderqueer students, the senators recommended the university provide official forms for transgender/genderqueer students to identify as such; more gender neutral bathrooms; and more advertising of the resources available to transgender/genderqueer students.
Low-income students – Low-income students reported the lowest satisfaction with their social lives, and students in each income bracket above low-income (five in total) reported progressively higher satisfaction with their social lives.
However, one senator in the audience pointed out that students in each of the five income brackets reported a satisfaction between 4 and 5 in a scale that ranged from 1 to 7. He did not think this was a very high difference. “We corroborated this data with countless anecdotes,” responded Wadood.
In order to help low-income students, the senators recommended financial literacy workshops; lowering or subsidizing the costs of events and resources; and career services targeted to lower-income students.
Getting Sleep – Undergrads reported more days without sleep every month than both PhD track and non-PhD track grad students.
Title IX and Course Evaluations
The Faculty Affairs Committee, with assistance from law faculty, has been reviewing the protocol concerning Title IX complaints on anonymous course evaluations (previously brought up here). Letty Mosss-Salentjin, a tenured senator from the Dental School, gave a presentation on this issue on Friday.
One issue related to submitting Title IX through course evaluations is whether course evaluations are a a valid way to submit complaints. Title IX policies do not specifically mention course evaluations, but they lay out a number of ways a complaint can be delivered, including on an online report form. The Faculty Affairs Committee does not consider anonymous course evaluations an online report form.
Another issue is whether an investigation can be triggered through an anonymous complaint. The Title IX policies request that all reports gain as much information as possible on the complainant, respondent, and the details of the incident. However, the policies also state that evidence can be submitted anonymously. “This language is broad enough that it might be interpreted to include anonymous evaluations,” said Mosss-Salentjin.
The Faculty Affairs Committee is still working on this issue with members of the law faculty.
Lovely graphic via the public domain