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SAS results reflect need for OC housing and finance resources

Data from Survey of All Students Ivana Hsyung

By Ivana Hsyung     1/16/24 9:42pm

The Student Association implemented changes to the Survey of All Students, including questions that collect off-campus housing data and gauge student sentiment on readiness toward personal finances and off-campus housing. 

The SAS is a questionnaire administered to all students each semester and is required to be completed prior to course registration. SA President Solomon Ni said that since his time at Rice, the SA section of the SAS has remained mostly unchanged. 

“This year is the year with the most major changes,” Ni, a Jones College junior, said, primarily in the form of additional questions.  

However, some undergraduate students haven’t noticed many changes.

“When I take the SAS I usually get through it as fast as I can so I can register for my classes … I honestly haven’t noticed any changes,” Jacob Coyle, a Will Rice College senior, said.

Some of the SA’s additional questions aim to collect data for collaborative projects. 

Results from one such question, “in order to better inform potential future shuttle stops, please indicate the cross streets closest to your off-campus residence,” will be used to develop off-campus population heat maps in conjunction with graduate student data provided by the Graduate Student Association. 

“[GSA] can pull [graduate student] addresses, we can’t. So we have to survey students,” Ni said. The heat map will help determine off-campus shuttle routes that may best serve the off-campus population, he added. 

Associate Vice President for Campus Services and Sustainability Rick Mello said that Rice is looking forward to providing shuttle service to off-campus students.

“We are very interested in any data, perspective or feedback that can help our Campus Services team better understand the needs of our students as we look to explore future initiatives that positively impacts our student’s experience,” Mello wrote in an email to the Thresher.

According to Mello, Rice Transportation is aiming to implement these updated shuttle routes sometime “early to mid [spring 2024] semester.”

Other questions relating to off-campus housing include asking students to indicate agreement or disagreement with phrases such as “it is easy to find off-campus housing” and “signing a lease is a clear process, and I have no questions about it.”

Student response concerning preparedness leans toward the negative, and Ni said that this data will allow the SA to begin collaborating with the General Counsel’s Office to help students get more information about how to sign a lease.

Coyle said he saw a need for more university resources regarding off-campus housing. 

“We’re young adults, fresh out of high school. Figuring out renting your own apartment and stuff can be really daunting for 18, 19-year-olds, so I think providing resources from [the] university on navigating that stuff would just be super great,” Coyle said. 

The SA also added questions assessing interest toward educational opportunities for personal finance. Ni said that the SA “want[s] to work with the stakeholders on campus, whether that’s the business school or the office of student success.” 

Many students indicated that they wanted to learn more about tax filing through the question’s write-in option.

“There’s a lot of universities and colleges that have, either through their student government or the campus, tax preparers on campus,” Ni said. “We can also work with other organizations on campus to see if people would be interested in [becoming] a certified tax preparer through the IRS, and fill out really basic, simple taxes for people.” 

Ni added that this is particularly relevant for those on financial aid, since you have to report any financial aid you receive on your taxes. 

From an administrative standpoint, “this semester will serve as a pilot to gather data and feedback to determine how we can best serve our students moving forward,” Mello wrote.

For Coyle, though, filling out the survey is a different story.

“When I graduate, I will fill it out, I promise,” Coyle said.

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