The Office of Residential Life has begun analyzing the executive summary from the Residential Life Assessment survey it conducted last spring—the first of its kind since 2008. Boston College plans to use the responses to compare its dorms to competitors universities’.
Dorrie Siquerios, director of Residential Life, and Greg Jones, director of Housing Operations at the Office of Residential Life, explained that the decision to revive the survey again was largely motivated by the desire to fill the gap of data the school had regarding residential life.
“We were going through a review for something else and we realized we had nothing to point to if we wanted to know what people’s experiences were across the years,” Siquerios said. “When we look to make improvements, we do want to see the things we do well and have some data on that.
“The program allows us to compare ourselves to other institutions similar to Boston College whether that’s other research universities, universities located in New England, and other universities that might be a little different than us but that we aspire to be more like,” Jones said.
The University currently compares data from its surveys to schools such as Northwestern, University of Miami, and New York University, using Skyfall—a survey collection tool for colleges and universities—according to Siquerios and Jones. Siquerios explained that the widespread use of the program helps it function as a longitudinal study.
The Residential Life Assessment focused on two major areas: learning and satisfaction. The survey mostly looks to gather data surrounding what skills a student is gaining from their particular residence hall, such as conflict resolution and self-management skills. The satisfaction portion of the survey is centered around how students generally feel about their living spaces, which includes feedback on facilities, safety, and dining.
The Office of Residential Life has picked up on areas of general satisfaction and dissatisfaction about residential life at BC, but it still plans to perform a more in-depth analysis of the results.
“One of the highlights of things that scored well is our campus security,” Jones said. “Students rated us very highly, especially compared to our peers, of the residences being safe buildings.”
One finding was a call for increased education around the room selection process. The survey asked students how easy they found the experience and the results showed that students find the room selection info sessions helpful, Jones and Siquerios said.
“In a lot of ways, this is our starting point,” Siquerios said. “We’ll be able to see and have more data in a year and a half about what was unique to that year and what are the trends.”
She explained that in the coming years of housing selection, the Office of Residential Life hopes to increase attendance to these information sessions to ensure that they are engaged in the process.
Jones and Siquerios also said that student-staff relationships are another strong area of satisfaction in the BC community. She considered this feedback to be an indication of well-trained resident assistants, as they devote a significant amount of time during the year to building a community within the residence halls.
“I would like to point to the extensive training and selection that we have of resident assistants,” Siquerios said. “I think they do a large part in how somene feels safe and secure in their space.”
While the majority of the feedback from the Residential Life Assessment survey was positive, BC students did feel strongly that there are improvements for the Office of Residential Life to make in the next coming years, according to Siqueiros—for example, students feel strongly about housing assignments, particularly room selection.
The office observed some differences among residence hall satisfaction rates, even within the same class year, although no clear trends—comparing Newton Campus dorms and Upper Campus dorms—showed no clear winner, Siqueiros said.
“We even see buildings that are right next to each other and connected having different ratings from each other as well,” she said.
Jones also said that BC’s residential halls are unique compared to many other schools, which affects the housing process.
“Part of the things that we have to remember when we look at our campus compared to others is that we have a very different type of population than some other campuses,” Jones said.
Jones noted that a majority of BC students live on campus senior year and off campus junior year, unlike other colleges, and BC offers a greater diversity of housing styles as compared to other universities, which often offer one or two different room layouts.
“Part of what we have to do is make sure that when we’re looking at our data, we’re looking at it in a way that makes sense for who we are and what we actually have here physically,” Siquerios said.
Featured Image by Madison Sarka/Heights Staff