Record survey reveals decreased approval of College policies, institutions

Megan Lin and Kiara Royer

(Rachel Buccalo/The Williams Record)

The Record sent out its biannual approval ratings survey this past week to 500 randomly selected students, who were given the option to indicate whether they approve of, disapprove of, or feel neutral about various campus figures, institutions, and policies.

Compared to the approval ratings survey from the fall 2020 semester, approval of the College dropped 17 percent, from 86 percent to 69 percent, while approval for President Maud S. Mandel decreased by 16 percent, from 72 percent to 56 percent. Eighty-five percent of students approved of the College faculty, a three percent decrease from the previous semester.

Of the 169 respondents — a response rate of 34 percent — 36 percent were first-years, 18 percent were sophomores, 26 percent were juniors, and 20 percent were seniors. Almost 80 percent said that they were enrolled on campus this spring, with 13 percent studying remotely, and the remainder either enrolled in person but living off campus, studying abroad, or taking time off. 

The results of the survey showed a slight increase in approval from the fall for only a few of the College’s institutions including the recently established Three Pillars, the student government bodies, with a 6 percent increase to 18 percent and the testing protocols with a 9 percent increase to 87 percent. However, most institutions and policies at the College experienced a decrease in approval compared to last semester. 

Student approval of the Center for Academic Resources experienced the greatest decrease, from 64 percent in the fall to 36 percent this spring. Seventy percent of respondents, a drop of 21 percent from the fall, approved of the College’s overall response to COVID-19 this semester, while other notable decreases in approval were for Integrative Wellbeing Services from 37 percent to 25 percent and Campus Safety and Security (CSS) from 48 to 30 percent. CSS also experienced the highest increase in disapproval, from 7 percent in the fall to 25 percent this spring.

The Three Pillars had the lowest approval rating, although the 18 percent approval was an increase from the fall semester’s 12 percent. Yet, despite the low approval rating, the Three Pillars had a disapproval rating of only 15 percent, as the bulk of the students surveyed – 67 percent – felt neutral.

The survey also included questions about the College’s COVID-related policies and handling of events this semester. Forty-one percent of respondents said they approved of the College’s handling of the Wood gathering and its aftermath, with 39 percent disapproving and 20 percent neutral. The College’s decision (in collaboration with the NESCAC) to allow spring athletic competitions received a 56 percent approval rate, with 17 percent of respondents saying they disapproved. Looking forward to next semester, 85 percent of respondents said all faculty should be required to be vaccinated, and 83 percent said all staff should be.

The following items were also surveyed:

  • The Davis Center: 46 percent approve, 50 percent neutral, 5 percent disapprove
  • The Athletic Department: 37 percent approve, 41 percent neutral, 21 percent disapprove
  • The Career Center: 46 percent approve, 44 percent neutral, 10 percent disapprove
  • The Health Center: 46 percent approve, 41 percent neutral, 17 percent disapprove
  • The Record: 62 percent approve, 22 percent neutral, 16 percent disapprove
  • The Registrar’s Office: 41 percent approve, 49 percent neutral, 11 percent disapprove
  • Dining Services: 56 percent approve, 31 percent neutral, 17 percent disapprove
  • The Entry System: 54 percent approve, 33 percent neutral, 13 percent disapprove

Due to rounding, some percentages may not add up to 100.