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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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Survey: most students support rec proposal

Eight percent of students take survey; 62.4 percent support proposal, 37.6 don't want to pay with fees

by Bronson Pettitt

Issue date: 2/19/08 Section: Campus News

The majority of students are willing to pay for updated campus recreation facilities, according to a survey released Monday.

While 37.6 percent of the 1,179 surveyed said they didn't support using student fees, 62.4 percent said they would pay anywhere from $1 to more than $40. In its current state, a revised campus recreation proposal would cost full-time undergraduate students about $28 per semester.

About 10 percent of respondents said they'd be willing to pay $21 to $30 for revised facilities. About 36 percent would pay less than that figure, while 16.5 percent said they'd be willing to pay more than $30.

Although only about 8 percent of students responded to the online survey, Minnesota State Student Association President Chris Frederick said he "was really hoping for around 2,000, but 1,100 students taking the survey is an adequate sampling."

Students were also asked which feature of the rec proposal was most important and appealing. The walking and jogging trail was the most favorable, while field improvements received slightly less support than the three other options.

"I was kind of surprised at how many students were in agreement with the pieces," Frederick said.

Senate has yet to recommend the proposal's passage, but Frederick said he expects the senate to make a decision and announce it during Wednesday's meeting. Frederick said he supports the proposal, which at $8.4 million, costs about 40 percent less than last year's failed proposals.

Minnesota State must send its letter of consultation, recreational facilities proposal and other materials to the Minnesota State Board of Trustees by Feb. 27. That means a final decision is near, but Frederick said students can still contact their senators on their feelings toward the rec proposal.

The survey returned almost 300 short answers regarding the rec proposal, and Frederick said many important points were made. Some suggested it's not fair for online-only students to have to pay for facilities they'd never use. Others said outdoor facilities would have limited to no use during part of the year, while other students mentioned the overcrowding in Otto Arena and other indoor facilities merited additional outdoor facilities.

One common misconception in the survey responses was the fact that the money should instead be spent on academics, Frederick said. Funding for nearly everything on the academic side comes from tuition and state dollars, while anything related to student activities and the "college experience" is paid for by student fees, including recreation. Current student fees for full-time undergraduates is $371 per semester.

• The survey also asked students about tobacco bans and green space. More than 52 percent of the 1,175 students surveyed said they approved a tobacco-free campus, while only 7.7 percent said they did not support a tobacco-free campus. About a quarter said they are in favor of the current policy which prohibits smoking areas within 15 feet of entrances, and 15 percent favored designated areas for smoking.

Putting in place a tobacco ban, however, is a sticky situation: it would be enforced either by Campus Security or by other students and faculty.

Frederick was surprised to see 48.5 percent of students said security should enforce a ban, which would put extra strain on a difficult-to-enforce policy, Frederick said. About 19 percent said peers should enforce a ban, and 21.3 percent didn't support the policy at all.

Many commented on the survey saying the current policy isn't enforced, and it would be impractical to extend a campus-wide policy, while others voiced in favor of more restriction but adding designated smoking areas.

• Students overwhelmingly disfavored the removal of near-campus parking in order to create more green space: about 61 percent rejected the idea, and only 17.1 percent of 1,174 students agreed; the rest remained neutral.

• Of the five options available, students said textbook pricing was overwhelmingly the biggest academic issue facing the university; students indicated class availability and faculty teaching styles were important issues, while grading and advising were less important.

• The survey also asked students about academic advising. Nearly all knew who their advisors were, but about 60 percent didn't meet or met with them only once per semester. About 20 percent of students said their advisors weren't helpful, and 40 percent didn't know how to change advisors. About 68 percent said their advisors gave them adequate career advice. Only 23.8 percent of students knew how the academic appeals process worked, which Frederick said he hoped could be brought to the attention of senate more frequently.