November 2022 Survey Results

November 2022 Survey Results

At the end of November, as we have done in previous years, we took a survey of the Trinity Campus Community to gauge the general tenor of the community, to get some informal assessment feedback on campus operations, and to gather input on some specific issues.  192 faculty, staff and students responded in the proportions illustrated above.  This blog summarizes the survey results.  We provide some of the written comments along with the question summaries; we do not reprint every comment but provide those that seem most representative of the comment group.  The Senior Executive Staff review all surveys and comments and discuss actions necessary to resolve some of the problems identified.  Deans may also share the surveys pertinent to their collegiate units with their faculty for further analysis and problem-solving.

Thanks to everyone for your valuable and candid participation!

Question #2:  Is the Fall 2022 semester going better, the same or worse than you expected?

We have asked this question in every survey since 2020, and the responses below are consistent with earlier surveys at this time of year:

Student Comments to Q2:

This Fall Semester was better because I had excellent professors. (ECA)

I have never been to college. So everything is new to me. But the staff and the professors make it easy. They communicate very well and I try to do that in return. They are respectful. The cafeteria staff are the best. (CAS)

As a transfer student I would say the process getting into Trinity was better than I expected.As far as the glasses and work ethic in general I will say things have been going as expected, having those good and bad days. College is definitely hard work. (NHP)

I am grateful for Trinity’s flexibility during this unprecedented time. I’m sure it was difficult navigating these last few years and ensuring that students received a stellar experience. I started school in January 2020 right before the pandemic really took hold of us and was unsure of how my future at Trinity would unfold. I am pleased to say that Trinity transcended my expectations! To ensure momentum was not lost but rather gained, Trinity immediately transitioned to online classes and made sure we were all equipped to succeed. Although change is inevitable it is not always abrupt. In this situation, it was! I’m grateful that Trinity valued us as students and took control of the situation and brought about a sense of normalcy by continuing education. Thank you! (SPS)

Fall Semester has taken a toll on my mental health. I have really been struggling to ‘keep up’. I feel like I have heard similar comments from my friends and other peers. Honestly, it can be the pressure of graduating in May but also the continuous semester with only one break. Others, like myself also work outside of school and sometimes do not feel supported when asking for assistance from professors such extensions or making us feel comforted whenever we express ourselves. Majority of students that I have spoken to about this feels the same way- we know we have deadlines to meet and we always meet them but I believe that support should be warranted from professors as well. We are brilliant students with brilliant minds but sometimes we need a break. (CAS)

The intimidation of coming back to school was getting to me. The Professors and students are amazing, and they display an attitude of no one left behind culture and it has pulled and propelled me to succeed. (SPS at THEARC)

I am not as stressed as I thought I’d be coming back to school after a four year gap. My communication with staff and advisors hasn’t been stressful as well. Something that was anxiety inducing in my previous college four years ago. So I’m glad the staff here is friendly and willing to help. So, I feel relieved and thankful. (CAS)

…this is the 3rd time I have had a professor at Trinity who was absolutely awful and it’s really frustrating and it’s like no one is holding these professors to any standard I’m actually glad to see this survey to get feedback! (SPS)  [Note from President McGuire — we encourage students to complete course evaluations candidly, and also to contact your dean if the issue cannot wait for the final course evaluation.]

This fall was very tough for me. Life outside of college got really hard and depressing on top of the stress of school already. I had gotten into a bad car crash and after that my mental have not been right. Finding the energy to come to class was tough on top of constantly fighting migraines. I honestly feel though Trinity does not value a student’s life outside of classes especially when it comes to the unexcused absence. One of my professors stated that every absence counts as a unexcused absence regardless of a doctors note. Which is very unreasonable when neither professors knows a student on a personal level and don’t know what a student go through outside of that 1hr and 15min of class. (CAS)   [Note from President McGuire — I invite this student to visit with Dr. Gerlach, VP Student Affairs, to discuss what happened.  We expect faculty members to respect medical excuses and not penalize students who are sick.]

I was not ready for in-person class this fall. Many of my classmates did not want to wear a mask in class which made me feel uncomfortable. I wore my mask and the professor wore hers as well, but I still got sick not COVID. It was hard going to class knowing that I was not feeling well. My professor sent me home one evening because she could see that I was struggling to breathe through my mask and I had this dry cough. My professor was very understanding and I appreciate her being so kind and considerate.  (SPS)

Faculty Comments to Q2:

Some graduate students are continuing to struggle to meet the demands of their work in the workplace and at Trinity. Accommodations have been made at Trinity but the upheavals and challenges at the workplace have continued to impact the students’ attention to quality of school work and the energy to complete assignments. (PGS)

Students seem overwhelmed and stretched too thin between work, school and family.(PGS)

Difficulty with attendance, student engagement, completion of assignments. (CAS)

There has been a lot of student issues this semester as this was probably worst than other semesters even in during the pandemic. The issues pertain to a lot of mental health issues, students having close family members/friends/contacts who have lost their life or been diagnosed with illnesses, to students just being unmotivated to complete assignments and a lack of regard to established due dates. (NHP)

Students were very appreciative to resume in-person class because it makes lectures and demonstrations far more audience friendly. (PGS)

Students have become accustomed to in-person classes and seem to prefer being together. I invited guest speakers both in person and virtual, but my students preferred in-person guest lecturers. (CAS)

It’s been a challenging semester, but not in any surprising ways. I do believe our students experienced a good deal of learning loss from the pandemic and their work is suffering. (CAS)

…and many similar faculty comments about absences and student disengagement, most attributed to ongoing pandemic stress.

Staff responses to Q2:

I am worried about the overall economy. Macro-economic conditions have worsened and puts pressure on Trinity.

Celebrating Trinity at 125 has made this a most memorable time!

I am experiencing burn out. I think my emotional health is more fragile than last fall or spring semester. I have been seeking support to improve, but I am still feeling burned out and overwhelmed.

I feel the activity and energy is back to pre-pandemic levels.

I enjoy working at Trinity, the environment is peaceful overall. I enjoy the telework day and having my own office space. It is refreshing coming to work and not feeling stressed but know that I am supported and my opinion matters in my office.

I’m pleased we still use the mask mandate. I would prefer proper distancing to be implemented due to the three-virus pandemic that we are currently in. It would be awesome to create a bubble of health on our campus.

Preparing for the 125th Anniversary and Reunion celebration, along with my other duties, was very hard work but it was so very rewarding! The teamwork, with everyone working at their best with an upbeat and can-do attitude, made the work a pleasure. The responses from our grateful guests provided a great deal of satisfaction knowing that our efforts brought them closer to Trinity. I feel appreciated and respected which makes it much easier to jump to the next priority with enthusiasm!

Question #3:  Opinions on a List of Issues

Below you can see the issues listed on the left side and comparisons of responses by faculty, students and staff:

Regarding the Mask Mandate:  while the majority opinions in each group agreed with the statement “Make Masks Optional” — with the largest majority among staff — there is a very strong minority opinion in favor of keeping the mask mandate to respect the health and safety of those who are immuno-compromised, or who live with at-risk individuals.  Given the current “triple threat” of Covid, Flu and RSV, and the concern of public health authorities that the holiday break will result in a surge of cases, Trinity will continue the indoor mask mandate at least through January and we will assess campus opinion again in early February once the spring semester is underway.

We also continue the vaccine mandate including boosters.  All of the science tells us that being up-to-date on all necessary immunizations is the best way to contain disease (Covid, flu, other).  Even though we all know breakthrough cases (people who get Covid even while being fully immunized), we also know that the cases are less severe and less likely to result in hospitalization.  Please get boosted for your own sake and the sake of all in our community.

We are evaluating responses to the questions about in-person, hybrid and online classes.  A lot of factors go into decision-making about course delivery formats, and we want to be sure that we are serving our students in the best possible ways in every course.  We are also reviewing quality standards for online and hybrid instruction to be sure that our practices meet all contemporary standards.

Regarding the staff work week, we will continue with 4 days on campus and one day remote for all staff members, with a strong preference for staff to take their remote days on a Monday or Friday so that team meetings and group engagement can occur T-W-Th with reasonable assurance that everyone will be here to participate.

Rating Operations and Suggestions for Improvement

We asked a long question to give informal assessments on a number of campus operations.  The input is extremely helpful and thanks to all those who took the time to answer and provide thoughtful comments.  We will not repeat the ratings or comments here — we are discussing them with the managers responsible for each area — but in summary these are the largest areas of concern:

Dining Services:  many comments about need for improvement in the food itself, the dining hall atmosphere, and the hospitality of the dining services staff.  We hear you!  While we are in a capital campaign for a major renovation of Alumnae Hall, we do need to tackle some short-term improvements and are working on a plan to do just that.  Gilles Syglowski joined the Metz team as the director of Dining Services in October, and he will also be addressing the critical issues — he has already hired a new chef and we are looking forward to more changes going forward.

Bookstore:  a comment called the online bookstore an “experiment” but, sadly, it’s not.  Barnes & Noble did not wish to continue a bookstore on campus, and there are no other vendors who will engage a contract for an on-campus store that has relatively low revenues.  This is not just a Trinity problem, it’s pervasive not only in higher education but in the bookselling business generally — online stores (Amazon, we see you!) have crushed in-person shops and that trend is unlikely to abate.  In general, the fall semester with online book purchases went reasonably well, thanks largely to Assistant Provost Kathelon Toliver who provided immediate and helpful assistance to work through challenges.  Provost Ocampo and Dr. Gerlach are also closely involved and continuing to assess what other bookstore-related services we might provide more effectively, e.g., the online spirit shop for logo merchandise, and the sundries.

Parking:  some of the comments raised perennial concerns about parking, but this is a problem that tends to arise at certain times of day on only certain days of the week.  One solution would be to go back to parking permits with fees, but that is likely to cause even greater consternation.  There is often parking available on the back side of campus, and the shuttle does make stops around campus for those who have to park in more distant locations.  We will continue to assess other options.

Services and Greater Inclusion for SPS and All Adult Students:  We hear you.  This is a topic that has become more neuralgic as a result of the pandemic and extensive delivery of SPS/BGS courses online.  We know the students enjoy the online courses, but that also creates a challenge in terms of providing on-campus activities and opportunities.  Dean Tom Mostowy and his team will be in dialogue with students about this topic and how we can improve available activities for SPS students in the Spring semester.

Campus Activities:  a more general concern flows through various comments about a need for more campus activities, and particularly for resident students on weekends.  We would be happy to hear more from students about the kinds of activities that would be attractive — our staff is concerned about low turnout when they try to stage different kinds of events.  We are open to ideas about this issue.

A final question asked for ideas about symposia in 2023 and we had a lot of great suggestions, top topics below:

We’ll be back to everyone about the symposium topics for 2023 and welcome your engagement with planning.

Thanks to everyone for your participation!!  Your engagement makes Trinity stronger.

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