What's on your mind Rutgers
This month marks the Rutgers University Student Assembly's implementation of an exciting new initiative called "What's on Your Mind Month." During October, the members of RUSA will focus on learning about the concerns of students on campus through a "What's on Your Mind" survey, which will be distributed by members of the campus and professional school councils to all University students. Students will have the opportunity to share their thoughts about whatever issues concern them in this open-ended survey. These surveys will give administrators a more general understanding about the concerns of students.
RUSA's University Affairs Committee will also be working to contribute to this broader effort to learn about what's on your mind. As some of you may already know, the University Affairs Committee is one of RUSA's four core committees, and it is responsible for learning about student concerns regarding student services, such as dining hall services, transportation services, graduation ceremonies, discrimination and safety. It uses the research that it collects on student opinions to recommend specific policies, written in the form of resolutions, to the members of the RUSA. When these resolutions are passed, they serve as recommendations to the administration, expressing the concerns and needs of students.
Over the past few months, students have been participating in several discussions about student services in the University Affairs Committee's online forums, which are located in the University Affairs Facebook group. These discussions serve to determine the agenda of the committee, telling it exactly what you would like us to do for you. Already, one of these discussions has led to changes in the University's Department of Transportation Services. After a meeting with RUDOTS, and a subsequent resolution outlining changes that were both practical to RUDOTS and desirable in the eyes of students, a clearer process was instituted for obtaining parking permits for one-time only events held by students on campus. These parking permits will help students who need their cars to set up for events that they are hosting on campus.
The discussions that have been occurring online will now serve as the basis for four targeted surveys that the committee will distribute during "What's on Your Mind Month." In order to complement the more general and open-ended "What's on Your Mind Survey" that will be distributed by RUSA as a whole, these surveys will be very specific in nature, zeroing-in on four major concerns that have been consistently expressed by many students in the committee's online forums. The four major concerns for which there will be surveys are listed below:
Late-Night Study Spaces at Libraries:
We all have something to say about the libraries, especially about their closing hours. A survey on this issue will ask questions about possible ways to extend library hours. Currently, only the College Avenue and Busch campuses have libraries that are open until 2 a.m. Livingston and Douglass campuses have libraries that are open until midnight, and on Cook campus, the latest time that a library is open is 11 p.m. Students will be asked whether they would prefer to keep the current hours of the libraries; whether they would prefer to have at least one library on each campus remain open until 1 a.m. instead of maintaining the current schedule or whether they would prefer the all libraries to close earlier during most days of the week so that one library can remain open as a 24-hour study space for one day of every week. Students will also be asked whether there is one day of the week that they study on the most, and whether they would be willing to pay a $150 student fee as part of their term bill in order to accommodate increased library hours and services, such as databases.
The Amount of Guest Swipes Available to Students:
Don't you hate it when you decide to treat a friend or a date to a night of superb food at one of our exquisite dining halls only to find out that you have run out of guest swipes? The survey about this issue will ask you whether or not you think University students should see an increased amount of guest swipes, and if so, the amount of guest swipes that you believe that students should be allotted during each semester.
The Rutgers Book Advance Fund:
Did you know that if your financial aid refund is greater than $500, your financial aid refund will be automatically transferred to a RU Book Advance account? This account can only be used at the University's bookstores. Unfortunately, it cannot be used at Amazon or Chegg, where many students can purchase or rent books for more affordable prices. Although students have the option to opt-out before they submit your term bill, some have expressed that they were not aware of this option, and said that they had to wait even longer for their refund check in order to purchase their books for more affordable prices elsewhere. A survey about this issue will ask you where you usually purchase your books and whether or not you think that the Rutgers Book Advance Fund is helpful.
The Cleanliness of University Water Fountains:
Some students have expressed their anxieties about the cleanliness of water fountains on campus. One student said, "Water fountains at Rutgers are disgusting. Poor sanitation of the water fountains around Rutgers can lead to many health complications and forcing more students to buy waters from vendors and they think it's unfair that they have to spend money on something that should be free." The committee would like to know how many students use water fountains and whether or not they would use them if they were cleaner.
It is the hope of the University Affairs Committee that these four targeted surveys will help us to efficiently gauge the level of concern that students have about these four specific issues. We also hope to provide students with the opportunity to indicate which solutions they believe could most effectively address these concerns. Please look out for and take advantage of the efforts of RUSA and the committee to learn about what's on your mind this month. "What's on Your Mind Month" is a valuable opportunity for you to express your concerns about and shape the University that you spend $20,000 —or in the case of out-of-state kids like myself, $30,000 — to attend.
Ben West is a Rutgers College Senior majoring in political science. He is also chairman of RUSA's University Affairs Committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.