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DSG survey: Students say

The results of the Duke Student Government's long-awaited "Visions of Duke" survey were presented at Wednesday's meeting, with student government officials concluding that undergraduates become increasingly unhappy and disillusioned with University policies as they progress through Duke.

The survey showed that a fundamental disconnect exists between students' academic experience, which is generally very positive, and the social experience, which is often quite negative. Overall, that combination leads students to a feeling of pessimism about the University.

Following a presentation of the results was a one-minute question-and-answer period in which DSG Vice President for Facilities and Athletics Alex Niejelow called the conclusion that students became increasingly unhappy with University policies "stunning."

DSG Director of Student Services Rick Garcia, who led the survey project, responded that while students are very happy as freshmen and gave the first-year East Campus living experience high marks, they become disillusioned by the time they are seniors. This conclusion echoes similar research by Dean of Trinity College Robert Thompson.

Academics are the area in which students feel most satisfied, according to the survey, but it is a nuanced approval. For example, students reported an engaged and top-notch faculty, but wanted more interaction. They liked the range of course offerings but expressed disdain for Curriculum 2000, calling it limiting.

Social life was far more vehemently criticized. Students possess "an underlying assumption that the Duke social scene is being destroyed because of a lack of late-night on-campus options and questionable administrative policies," the survey said. Self-segregation, security and parking also raised ire.

Garcia, DSG Attorney General Dave Kahne and DSG President Matt Slovik conducted the four-question survey at the end of last spring. They received over 550 responses--less than 10 percent of the undergraduate student body, but "awesome numbers" in the opinion of the surveyors.

According to the final "Visions of Duke" publication, DSG conducted the survey to combat the feeling that it does not represent students or allow their voices to be heard. However, the survey results showed that undergraduates thought that student government organizations were doing an inadequate job.

Kahne said he had come to a realization about DSG's role in obtaining feedback. "A lot of people in student government say students are apathetic... [but] maybe it's our job, maybe we should be actively trying to get their support than making them try to come to us," he said.

IN OTHER BUSINESS: Director of Parking and Transportation Cathy Reeve gave a speech and took questions about the state of transportation at the University. She said Charlene's Cab Company, the University's taxi-on-points, had been asked to notify students if a non-Charlene's taxi would be sent in lieu of the points-based Charlene's vehicle. She also briefed DSG on last summer's merger between the University and Medical Center parking systems.

A statute that would have asked the Student Organization Financing Committee to enforce the flyering policy was narrowly voted down, 16 to 13.


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