Residential Survey Calls for Changes

Students voiced a need for improved air conditioning and heating in dorms, better responses to facilities requests and updated Wi-Fi infrastructure in a recent Georgetown University Student Association residential living survey.

The survey, which was conducted from mid-February to mid-March, received 1,238 responses, or 23 percent of students living in on-campus housing. Darnall, Harbin, Henle, New South, Village A and Village C West had the highest amount of respondents with over 100 students responding from each of these dorms. There was a higher freshman respondent rate relative to the rest of the student body.

“I thought the survey was valuable as I think it is important for students and the administration to have constructive dialogue, and I thought it was an effective way to get my voice heard,” Sam Pence (SFS ’16), a survey respondent, said.

Air conditioning and heating problems were students’ top concerns in dorm rooms. Over 35 percent of respondents cited air conditioning and heating as improvement priorities. More than 30 percent of students were concerned with faulty showers in bathrooms, while TV channel variety captured 33 percent in the common room improvement category.

David Lizza (COL ’15), a former vice president of student advocacy for the InterHall Council, said that he will notify the Office of Residential Living of the problems cited by students.

“We are collecting [this data] so that in the future, we can hopefully produce a report with the findings,” Lizza said. “The Office of Residential Living and other related offices can use it as a guide to see where things need to be improved.”

Additionally, Wi-Fi access and connectivity were major issues for respondents, as more than 20 percent of students said in the survey that it was infrequent and inaccessible. However, GUSA senator Daniel Lysak (COL ’18), who helped co-design the survey, noted that responses to Wi-Fi access varied by dormitory.

“Wi-Fi success was also broken down into individual residence halls, apartments and townhouses,” Lysak said. “For example, in Reynolds, 25.6 percent of students stated that their Wi-Fi connection infrequently works. In New South, this number was much lower, only 15.5 percent.”

Around 30 percent of students felt that the responsiveness of facilities met or exceeded their expectations after submitting a work request. However, there was a stark divide between freshman dorms, whose rate was only 16 percent, and the upperclassman dorms, where 60 percent of students thought that facilities met or exceeded expectations. Lysak said this may be due to a lack of proper education of freshmen when it comes to submitting work requests.

“I know that responsiveness of work requests are a big concern for many students,” Lysak said. “[This] may cause administrators to think of new ways to articulate the work request process more clearly.”

Also included was a question on whether students would be interested in a prepaid laundry system covered for students with financial aid. Lysak and Lizza found an almost even split by respondents regarding the proposal.
Lizza said that the goal of the survey was to increase effective collaboration with administration while exploring potential new innovations to on-campus housing.

“The students working on the survey have worked with the Office of Residential Living throughout the whole process on the survey,” Lizza said. “The administrators are not ‘reacting’ or will be surprised by the data.”

Lizza said that more analysis is needed in order to garner a better sense of student ideas. He said he appreciated the strong interest the university has shown in their survey, as it has worked directly with the Subcommittee on Residential Living during the process.

“Overall, I think the survey was very successful,” Lizza said. “We received valuable student input and worked well with the Office of Residential Living in taking the results to the next steps.”

According to Lysak, the survey could be used as a template for future progress.

“This is truly what I like to call a ‘Team Georgetown’ effort,” Lysak said. “Despite the common student conception that administrators work against students, these administrators worked with us, meeting after meeting, to make this survey something that can be used as a tool to improve the lives of all Georgetown students.”

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