The University of Delaware has released the results of three of the questions on a survey about this year's Residence Life program. Regular Torch readers will remember that last year's program, before it was suspended, involved major violations of students' rights to privacy, freedom of conscience, and freedom of speech.
The survey asked students about "10 key issues, including the voluntary nature of the program, as well as privacy and rights being respected," according to Matthew Robinson, chairperson of the Senate Student Life Committee, as reported by UDaily, the University of Delaware's official news source.
According to UDaily:
About 51 percent of the 6,769 residence hall students responded to survey questions sent out in December 2008, Robinson said.
The survey indicated that 92.2 percent agreed or strongly agreed that attending residence hall programs is voluntary, while 2.9 percent disagreed somewhat or strongly, and 5.8 percent of respondents expressed no opinion on the question.
About 80 percent of survey participants agreed or strongly agreed that residence life staff member respected student's personal beliefs, opinions, values and privacy, while 2.4 percent somewhat or strongly disagreed, and 17.1 percent expressed no opinion.
More than 53.7 percent of survey participants agreed or strongly agreed that as a result of residence life staff effort, they learned more about environmental sustainability efforts. About 19.7 percent somewhat or strongly disagreed, while 26.5 percent had no opinion.
This looks like very encouraging news. Most students believe that ResLife is not making any programming mandatory and that students' rights are being respected. This is a major victory for students' rights on campus—a cause FIRE began fighting at Delaware in October 2007.
At the same time, doing the math, the results mean that about 100 students surveyed believe or strongly believe that attending ResLife programs is not voluntary. About 83 students surveyed believe or strongly believe that ResLife staff do not respect students' personal beliefs, opinions, values, and privacy.
These numbers were sufficiently high that at the February 9, 2009, Faculty Senate meeting at the university, according to a person who was present, two faculty senators demanded an investigation, and Vice President for Student Life Michael Gilbert promised to start one.
If you are one of the 100 students or 83 students who believe that the University of Delaware is still violating students' rights, please let us know.