Students speak: poll says more visiting hours, less smoking

The Student Government Association released the survey results of an unofficial referendum created to gauge student opinions on different campus issues.

Representatives from the SGA Grievance Committee surveyed 216 students during Homecoming voting week along with the Residence Hall Association, asking them questions concerning the dining facilities, smoking areas and residence issues.

According to the findings, 56 percent of those surveyed would take advantage of a Sunday night meal at Caf Belvin, 63 percent support the prohibition of smoking within a certain distance of buildings, 42 percent live on campus, 87 percent support 24 hour visitation in all co-ed dormitories, and 29 percent worry that 24 hour visitation might cause tension of security problems.

SGA President Angie Cartwright said the poll is not an accurate depiction of campus desire since the sample group was not a large enough selection of the student body. Students were randomly questioned in the mall area, but the SGA felt it was not a diverse enough population.

Of the 216 students questioned, 126 live off campus, 33 live in residence halls, 22 live in small house, 27 live in apartments, three live in sorority houses and five live in other on-campus residences.

Junior Jason Horn, the chair of the Grievance Committee, said the survey was originally meant to be online but there were some problems that prevented the committee from getting the questions on the election ballot. The committee still wanted to collect student information, and released paper surveys instead.

‘The whole reason this happened on paper is because we had some industrious people decide that it was worth going ahead and trying an unofficial reading and try to better justify getting an official version this coming semester,” Horn said.

Horn said the official poll would be taken next semester, most likely in late January or early February. However, he said the results of student surveys always fair better during Homecoming election because of higher voter turnout. The last time a referendum was tried, it was during an SGA general election, which only 2 percent of the student body participated.

Horn still favors an online poll, which he said would give a greater diversity of responses.

“It’s always a good idea to get the opinions of the student body, and this is an accurate way to gauge opinions on the issues that affects students,” he said.

Horn said that any issues on the referendum that receive a majority will be first tried to pass through SGA legislation, then be handed to President James Geartner and other university executives, and finally try to pass it through other channels.

Junior Jason Plotkin, also on the Grievance Committee, said the students themselves presented the issues discussed on the ballot to the SGA.

“These are issues that have been brought up before as grievances by student in the last year and a half in which the SGA wanted to garner student opinion in order to act upon it,” Plotkin said.

One issue, concerning the 24-hour visitation issue in residence halls has interested the RHA for years. Plotkin said the poll would help generate opinion so that the organization could act on the issue.

The re-installment of Saturday night meal at Caf Belvin also is another crucial issue on the ballot.

“A lot of students have express concerns about having a Saturday night meal at Belvin,” Plotkin said. “In a way, this is updating the survey done Aramark that is outdated.”

Plotkin added the smoking issue has come from students expressing concerns that in order to go into class, they must walk through a “wall of smoke.”

Cartwright said the SGA is seeking to have the official survey take place on the SHSU website. She added it has been a while since the SGA has had a referendum, and it would be good to know what the students want and what they expect from their representatives.

“We want to back up the students and what they want, and let them know that whatever their concerns, the Student Government Association is there to fight for them,” Cartwright said.

The SGA plans to release the official referendum question next semester and will correct some of the language used in the unofficial survey questions that members of the Grievance Committee felt was not written accurately enough to convey the issues.

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