By Darrin Camilleri
This past week, Student Commission surveyed 418 students on many different issues that the College has been wrestling with and that students have been pushing for, some new and some old. Of the approximately 28% of the student body who participated, 63% were female, 35.5% were male and 1.5% did not prescribe to a gender. Additionally, of those who took the survey, 70% identified as white students while the remaining 30% identified as domestic students of color or international students. Interestingly, the political breakdown was much more nuanced than the typical campus narrative: 2% identified as very conservative, 9% as conservative, 21% as moderate, 34.5% as liberal, 17% as very liberal, and 16% chose none of the political affiliations listed.
What was most striking about the results to each question was this: Across class year, gender, race, and politics, the students of Kalamazoo College are resoundingly calling for big changes to campus.
When asked about the three biggest challenges that K students face, answers varied from racism and tuition to scheduling and time management and everything in between. But the most frequent answer by far was stress. However, overall, students report that they are satisfied with their experience at K by a 90%:10% margin, saying things like “I’ve seen a lot of positive development over the last few years, and although there’s still a lot to do, I think we’re headed in a good direction,” and “Although as a student of color it is difficult to be here, I have grown as a leader so It has made me stronger and I would not change that for anything.” And it was clear in the written responses that the biggest reason students enjoy it here is because of the students and professors they build relationships with.
That being said, students did respond to the survey with a call for change. Students report that the expanded gym hours meet their needs 74%:5%, with 20% having no opinion. Nearly 10% of students have gone through the conduct process, with the review having met expectations to merely 36% of respondents. And 56% of students report to be aware that social media posts can be used in a conduct case. On the question of whether all juniors should be allowed to live off campus, 73% support ending the residency requirement.
One of the more split questions was around making K a smoke-free campus. Students support the initiative 48.5%:35.65%. When discussing the Office of Multicultural Affairs, 46% are aware that it exists while 54% are not, and only 20% think that it meets the needs of students of color, first-generation students, and LGBT students. Forty-eight percent of students want to see an expanded office with more staff and programing. On the question of Ethnic Studies, 65% are aware of the campus conversation, while nearly 70% support permanently adding Ethnic Studies as a department.
Furthermore, nearly 69% of students say they are aware of the conversation around Divestment and 71% would support an initiative to divest our endowment from fossil fuels. The most overwhelming response by students was for a late-night Safe Ride program, with 79% of students saying they would utilize a program like that. Finally, on the question of the Board of Trustees, only 9% feel that the Board is accessible to students and 75% would support placing a student on the Board.
As Student Commission President, these survey results tell me that students overwhelmingly support initiatives that we have been advocating for all year—and sometimes for my entire four years, like a Safe Ride program. Furthermore, this data proves that that these aren’t simply StuComm’s pet projects that certain commissioners would like to see accomplished. All students want to have their voices heard on these issues and want the Administration to listen. And the calls won’t go away once strong advocates graduate. There is a trend, and the trend will only continue until President Wilson-Oyelaran and the Board of Trustees take action. That’s why I am urging them to listen to the voices of the students in this survey and begin to put the wheels in motion to address these concerns. The safety, well-being, and future of our fair Arcadian hill depend on it.
Full results can be found at reason.kzoo.edu/stucomm.