Record survey finds high approval for faculty, neutrality toward student government

Izzy Polanco and Quinn Casey

Izzy Polanco/The Williams Record

The Record sent its biannual approval rating survey to randomly selected unixes last week to gauge student approval of College institutions and policies. The survey found sustained high approval for the faculty and a drop in approval for the dean’s office. While respondents approved the addition of Theme/Affinity/Program/Special Interest communities (TAPSI) to residential life, they disapproved of the TAPSI communities accepted for next year, as well as the College’s mental health resources and support for students of color.

The Record used a stratified random sample to control for response bias in class year. 28 percent of the survey’s 174 respondents were seniors, while juniors, sophomores, and first-years made up 27 percent, 23 percent, and 22 percent of respondents, respectively. Off-cycle students were asked to round up their class years. This semester’s survey had a 7.4 percent margin of error.

52 percent of the survey’s respondents reported that they receive some form of financial aid, consistent with the 53 percent of the student body that receives financial aid. 48 percent of respondents use she/her/ hers pronouns, while 45 percent use he/him/his pronouns, and 2 percent use they/them/ theirs.

When asked to identify their race and given the option to check all that apply, approximately 72 percent of respondents said they identify as white, 23 percent as Asian or Asian-American, 7 percent as African-American or Black, 4 percent as Middle Eastern or North African, and 1 percent as Native American or Alaska Native. 16 percent of respondents identify as Latina/o/x or Hispanic, slightly higher than the proportion of the student body that identifies as such. The survey asked respondents to rank their approval, disapproval, and neutrality toward various College institutions.

This semester, the Record asked survey respondents about their approval of the Three Pillars, as well as their approval of Facilitators for Accessing Student Taxes (FAST), the Advisory Board for Lobbying and Elections (TABLE), and the Williams Student Union (WSU), which are the distinct institutions that compose the Three Pillars.

For each of the Three Pillars, students were largely neutral. TABLE had the highest neutrality of all college institutions surveyed at 67 percent and the lowest approval at 13 percent. 56 percent of respondents were neutral toward WSU, while 24 percent disapproved and 20 percent approved. 54 percent of respondents were neutral toward FAST, 27 percent disapproved, and 19 percent approved.

The Dean’s Office saw the largest decrease in approval from last fall, dropping 12 percentage points to 33 percent. Last fall, the Dean’s Office saw a 7-percent increase in approval. This semester, it also saw the second-largest increase in disapproval of the College’s institutions at 13 percent, rising to 27 percent. It followed only Integrative Wellbeing Services (IWS) by a difference of 0.1 percentage points, which received a 13-percent increase in disapproval for a total of 27 percent. Last semester, IWS saw an increase of 7 percent in approval amid record student demand.

Jointly, the Three Pillars garnered the fourth-highest neutrality rating of all college institutions at 57 percent following TABLE as well as the Honor and Discipline Committee and the Center for Academic Resources, both of which amassed 64-percent neutrality. 22 percent of respondents disapproved of the Three Pillars collectively, while 21 percent of students approved.

The Record received the largest increase in approval — 13 percent — and now holds a 64-percent approval rating. Last fall, the Record received an approval rating of 51 percent. It also saw the largest decreases in neutrality and disapproval at 10 and 3 percent, respectively.

In addition to approval of College institutions, the survey also asked respondents to rate their approval of affirmative action, as well as the College’s implementation of the TAPSI system, mental health resources, and support for students of color.


Olivia Jo/The Williams Record

67 percent of respondents approved of affirmative action, while 11 percent disapproved. This June, the Supreme Court is expected to strike down race-aware admissions. Last summer, the College joined at least 32 other private, highly selective residential colleges in submitting an amicus curiae brief supporting the use of race in admissions.

51 percent of respondents — including 71 percent of respondents of Hispanic or Latina/o/x origin and 71 percent of respondents who are international students — approved of the addition of the TAPSI system, while 26 percent of respondents disapproved. However, out of all respondents, only 20 percent approved of the TAPSI proposals selected by OCL, while 52 percent disapproved.

This semester, only 26 percent of students approved of the mental health resources offered by the College, while 32 percent disapproved. Compared to the fall, this marks a 2 percent increase in approval and 2 percent increase in disapproval. Only 6 percent of respondents who identified as international students approved of the College’s mental health resources this semester.

13 percent of students approved and 29 percent of students disapproved of the College’s resources for students of color this semester, marking a 1 percent and 3 percent increase, respectively. Only 8 percent of African American or Black respondents approved, while 46 percent were neutral and another 46 percent disapproved. This marks a 14 percent decrease in approval following at least three anti-Black bias incidents last semester, which students said they felt the College handled insufficiently in conversations with the Record.

The following items were also surveyed:

  • Williams College: 68 percent approve, 15 percent disapprove, 16 percent neutral
  • President Maud S. Mandel: 56 percent approve, 13 percent disapprove, 32 percent neutral
  • The entry system: 51 percent approve, 10 percent disapprove, 40 percent neutral 
  • The JA system: 52 percent approve, 13 percent disapprove, 35 percent neutral
  • Campus Safety Services (CSS): 40 percent approve, 26 percent disapprove, 34 percent neutral
  • The Registrar’s Office: 44 percent approve, 20 percent disapprove, 36 percent neutral
  • The Health Center: 35 percent approve, 32 disapprove, 33 percent neutral 
  • The Career Center: 30 percent approve, 31 percent disapprove, 39 percent neutral
  • The Athletics Department: 32 percent approve, 21 percent disapprove, 48 percent neutral
  • The Office of Financial Aid (Student Financial Services): 54 percent approve, 4 percent disapprove, 42 percent neutral
  • The Office of Campus Life (OCL): 31 percent approve, 20 percent disapprove, 49 percent neutral
  • The Davis Center: 39 percent approve, 14 percent disapprove, 48 percent neutral
  • The Center for Academic Resources: 30 percent approve, 6 percent disapprove, 64 percent neutral
  • The Office of Accessible Education (OAE): 28 percent approve, 17 percent disapprove, 55 percent neutral
  • The Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (OIDEI): 33 percent approve, 10 percent disapprove, 57 percent neutral
  • Honor & Discipline Committee: 18 percent approve, 18 percent disapprove, 64 percent neutral
  • Chaplain’s Office: 38 percent approve, 6 percent disapprove, 56 percent neutral 

Click here to access aggregated data from the survey.

Amina Naidjate and Gabe Miller contributed reporting.