Survey prompts democracy review

The results for the ‘Big 5’ are to be released by the Students’ Union this week, a survey which last term quizzed students on all aspects of the Union and its outlets.

The most significant, yet perhaps predictable, results include a distinct lack of interest in Union Democracy.

When asked whether students have attended SU democratic meetings, could name passed policies or knew how to stand for election, the majority of students said that they haven’t been, they don’t know, and they are happy to remain uninformed.

Students’ Union Democracy and Communications Officer Chris Luck commented that the results were “worrying”, adding that it shows that students do not think that Union Democracy is simple, accessible, or relevant to them.

However, despite a poor turnout of just 21.3 percent in the SU elections in February, 81 percent of students surveyed agreed that it was easy to vote in elections.

Over 80 percent of those surveyed agreed that Warwick SU contributed positively to their experience at Warwick, described by Luck as “outstanding”. Furthermore, over half of students at Warwick are involved in some form of sports club and 66 percent of students are a member of a society.

Student engagement rated poorly with over half indicating that, despite being aware of weekly emails, the Facebook page and the Bubble, they felt Warwick SU did not communicate feedback well to the students.

Students also reported that Union outlets including the Dirty Duck, the Bread Oven and Xananas had good staff who were friendly and positive.

The Membership Services Department which covered the Societies and Sports room, the Democratic Services and the Student Advice Centre were rated well by students who used them, yet the majority did not know about the services, or did not use them regularly. The Entertainments Department was also ranked positively, with the most popular events featuring Top B, Skool Dayz, Pop! and Unplucked.

The number of participants was over 1,600, lower than last year’s total of over 2,000. Luck argues that despite the lower participation, this year the survey had secured a “much more representative spread of students”.

Regarding the future of the Union, more will be done to try and address the target areas highlighted. Sabbatical officers and the steering groups will engage in meetings, and all of the information from this survey will be made publically available to students on a new ‘Big 5’ webpage.

Similar trends to last year included prices on campus and concerns over employability, both which will be addressed. The Union plans to engage in price comparison research to demonstrate its affordability to students.

As a result of the poor democracy results, the Democracy Review 2011 has been launched online and will be continuing work to make sure that it is simpler, easy to get involved in and accessible to all students’ needs.


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