Dartmouth Community Survey Results

by Alexander Agadjanian | 2/17/17 12:45am

In late January, The Dartmouth conducted a survey about attitudes toward and experiences in various communities at Dartmouth. Several interesting results and differences by groups on campus emerged from the survey, yielding new information about student life in the process.

Community during Sophomore Summer

Sophomore summer is often one of the most memorable periods for students during their time at Dartmouth. When asked how connected they felt to social life and activity on campus during sophomore summer, 79.7 percent of students who had already experienced the term—juniors and seniors—said they felt somewhat or very connected. 44.3 percent said very connected and 35.5 percent somewhat connected, while 11.5 percent of students said not very connected and 6.8 percent said not connected at all.

Based on their affiliation to Greek houses, students had different social experiences during sophomore summer. 90.1 of affiliated students said they felt very or somewhat connected to social life on campus, while 52.5 percent of unaffiliated students said so. 57.1 of affiliated students said they felt very connected to social life, while only 11.1 percent of unaffiliated students described their experience this way. 

Affiliation to Greek life plays a big role in the type of experience students have during sophomore summer. This period is also often described as a time when students grow closer to their Greek houses. Among affiliated juniors and seniors, 53.7 percent said they grew much closer to their Greek houses over sophomore summer, 26.1 percent said they grew a little closer to them, and 14.3 percent said they did not grow any closer. A split by gender arose among responses here. While 60 percent of men said they grew much closer to their houses during the summer, fewer women at 45.7 percent said the same thing.

Greek Life

Given the centrality of Greek life to how students experience community we Dartmouth, several other questions were asked about this dimension of social life. In order to speak to experiences in this type of community, affiliated seniors were asked which term were they most involved with their Greek houses. Sophomore summer proved the popular answer, with 54.6 selecting this period, while the next most chosen term was senior fall at 10.9 percent.

To gauge perceptions of Greek life in relation to other social life on campus, all respondents were asked if they agreed with the following statement: "we need more alternative social spaces to Greek houses on campus." A majority of Dartmouth students at 63 percent strongly or somewhat agreed with this statement, while 15.4 percent strongly or somewhat disagreed with it.

A few key dividing lines appeared in responses to this question. Not surprisingly, 76.4 percent of unaffiliated students—among sophomores, juniors, and seniors—said they agreed that more alternative social spaces were needed, while fewer affiliated students agreed at only 58.2 percent. Differences by other basic demographic variables came up as well. While 72.7 percent of non-white students agreed that we need alternative social spaces to Greek life, 53.1 of white students said so. Additionally, 37.6 percent of women strongly agreed with this sentiment but only 19.8 percent of men did.

Two broader questions were also asked to more closely capture attitudes toward the Greek system. The issue of inclusivity has been a very common aspect of debate surrounding the Greek system. A majority of Dartmouth students at 67 percent said that they thought the Greek system was somewhat or very inclusive, with 24.5 percent of those saying very inclusive. A gender difference emerged in response to this question, as 35.2 percent of men thought the Greek system was very inclusive but only 13.8 percent of women thought so.


Among eligible but non-affiliated students (i.e. excluding freshmen), 40.4 percent believed the Greek system was somewhat/very inclusive and 42.7 percent said somewhat/very exclusive; the split among affiliated students was 78.4 saying inclusive and 17.2 percent saying exclusive. While 35.2 percent of affiliated students categorized the Greek system at Dartmouth as very inclusive, only 8.1 percent of non-affiliated students did the same.

Clearly, there are considerable differences in how students experience Greek life and communities on campus. Those divides appeared most sharply when comparing students by affiliation, but also by gender and race in some cases. When asked what should be done about the presence of Greek life on campus, a plurality of students at 40.6 percent said that it should stay as it is when picking from seven options. 24.9 percent said the Greek life presence should be decreased a little, 11.7 percent said it should be increased a little, 9.2 percent said it should be decreased a lot, and only 3.6 percent said it should be eliminated. Many more eligible but non-affiliated students chose one of the decreased or eliminated options (57.2 percent) than affiliated students did (28.6 percent). Women and non-white students were also each more likely to select one of the options that would reduce the presence of Greek life on campus.

Living Learning Communities

The survey also probed students about their experiences and views toward Living Learning Communities on campus. When asked about what type of impact LLCs have had on their time at Dartmouth, 57.7 percent of all students said no impact at all and 31.6 percent said a positive impact. When limiting those response to only students who live or have lived in an LLC, 66.2 percent said LLCs had a positive impact while 25.5 percent said no impact at all (very few people reported a negative impact in either case). Interestingly, 40.9 percent of non-white students said LLCs had a positive impact compared to 22.1 percent of white students who said so.

Living in LLCs often require following various rules such as attending events or speaking a certain language. When asked how often they followed the rules of an LLC, 51.9 percent of students who live or have lived in an LLC said they did so always or most of the time, and 24.9 percent said they sometimes did. Non-white students were close to twice as likely to say the followed the rules always/most of the time (60.3 percent) than white students were (38.2 percent).

Students often have different motivations for living in an LLC. When students who live or have lived in an LLC were asked whether they were more interested in living in an LLC because of its housing benefits or programming events, a plurality at 49.2 percent said both, with housing benefits being the next most common answer at 39.6 percent. Affiliated students were more likely to say housing benefits (51.8 percent) than eligible but non-affiliated students were (36.4).

International students

According to administrative data, international students constitute nine percent of Dartmouth’s undergraduate population. When asked about how well these students were integrated in the general student body population, 64.5 percent of all students thought internationals were very or somewhat well integrated, while 26.4 percent said not very integrated or not integrated at all.

A few questions were asked only of international students concerning their own experiences, but not large enough samples of these students were collected to report statistically significant results.

Connection with Hanover

Finally, students were asked about how they related to the town of Hanover. When asked how closely connected they felt to Hanover, 59.4 percent of all students said they felt very or somewhat connected to the town, and 40.1 percent said not very connected or not connected at all.

Methodology:

From Sunday, January 22nd to Saturday January 28th, The Dartmouth fielded an online survey of Dartmouth students on community-related topics. The survey was sent out to 4,329 students through school email addresses. 532 responses were recorded, making for a 12.3 percent response rate. An opt-in survey such as this one does not produce a random or entirely representative sample. Using administrative data from the College’s Office of Institutional Research, responses were weighted by class year, gender, and race/ethnicity for all students, and by Greek affiliation for all non-freshmen. Raking was the method used for weighting. Survey results for all respondents have a credibility interval of +/- 4.3.

Note: Only differences within a demographic that were statistically significant are included in this article.