Student opinion revealed through ASWU fall survey

by Robert Giffin

Multiple Associated Students of Whitworth University affiliates including coordinators and senators went out into the Whitworth community to survey students for the annual ASWU Fall Survey on Sept. 17. The survey covered a variety of topics, including fair trade food at Sodexo and protecting  lesbian, gay and bisexual faculty at Whitworth from discrimination.

The survey questions, which are decided by the Executive Board each year and tweaked by the ASWU leadership, are based on current hot topics around campus. The survey not only takes into account the concerns of students, but faculty and staff also.

Question one of the survey asked students about issues they would like to discuss, events that they would like planned. The results for this question vary and will be explained in detail at the ASWU meeting on Oct. 1, ASWU President Ian Robins said.

“They are ideas, suggestions and general topics students are interested in and help shape our programming,” Robins said.

The second question of the survey asked students whether they would like all ASWU information sent by email, or if they would make use of an app that gave them information based on their interests. A majority of students, 365 to 215 ratio, said that they would rather receive all information through email.

In the 2014 Whitworth Faculty Handbook, there are currently no protections against discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation, even though 3 percent of the Whitworth faculty identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Question three of the survey asked students if there should be a new article in the handbook that protects faculty from this form of discrimination. The majority of students, 315 to 86 (30 having voiced no opinion), said that they would be in favor of such a measure.

“I found it interesting that the majority of the students who were questioned and that chose to answer felt that sexual orientation should be a protected identity on the Whitworth campus,” Robins said. “I am excited to see what our assembly thinks of all the results as they are the decision-makers in ASWU.”

The final question of the survey asked if students want Sodexo to embrace more locally grown and Fair Trade options, if it meant an increase in the price of meal plans. A majority of 215 to 148 students stated that they would not approve of such a measure. However, the opinions are varied as 16 students couldn’t decide, and 11 saying it would depend on the price.

“This can give ASWU some idea on how students are feeling on campus on some issues, and these results can then lead to certain focuses or more planning within specific areas,” Robins said.

Enacting policy change on a campus-wide basis is a long and time-consuming process. For now those issues will remain a point of conversation and debate amongst the Whitworth community and ASWU leadership. However, the discussion among student leadership will begin soon.

“I plan to present these results and start a conversation as soon as I can with our team to see where our priorities and energies should lie, or if we should further our work on any of these topics,” Robins said.

Contact Robert Giffin at

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