Survey shows 9 in 10 UAA students enjoy living on campus

Survey.jpgThe Quality of Life Survey of students living in the UAA residence halls and apartments for the fall semester was conducted and showed positive perceptions of most on-campus offerings.

A total of 177 students living on campus participated in the survey. Overall, students seem to be satisfied with their residential community.

More than half of the participants are in their first year at UAA and 75 percent are between 18 and 20 years old.

 

The UAA housing community consists of three residence halls as well as the Main Apartment Complex and the Templewood Apartments. North, East and West Hall house approximately 200 students each; about 220 students are living in the MAC buildings and the Templewood apartments have capacity for 80 people.

About 55 percent of the survey’s participants are living in one of the three residence halls; 29 percent are residents of the MACs and 6 percent reside in the Templewood apartments.

Jorge Sanchez, a psychology major in his first year at UAA, likes the MAC apartment he is living in.

“It’s a very spacious place with a great kitchen and a nice bathroom. [It] doesn’t feel like I’m in a dorm, but an actual apartment,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez has mixed feelings about on-campus living in general.

“It has its ups and downs. It’s great knowing that I’m able to walk to school. On the other side, you have roommates that can make your experience good or bad,” Sanchez said.

Despite satisfactory responses, approximately 28 percent of the participants indicated hearing derogatory remarks either directed to them or someone else while living in UAA’s residential community. The remarks were mainly targeted at a person’s sexual orientation, their religious beliefs or their ethnicity.

Still, nine in ten residents reported feeling welcome in the on-campus community and enjoying university housing.

Ryan Hill, associate director of Department of Residence Life and MAC residence coordinator, said that the results of the survey have been relatively consistent over the past years.

”There’s always things that we want to do better. When we ask people if they are comfortable living here, if they would recommend living on campus to a friend — we want to see a 100 percent,” Hill said. “Generally, in those areas, we’re in the 80 to 90 percent range and that makes us very happy. We’ve continued being in this range for the past few years.”

For the first time, the survey also asked the residents to rate their satisfaction with the facility upgrades the university has been investing in.

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“It was exciting to see that the upgrades were appreciated and noticed,” Hill said.

When asked about issues University Housing could improve on, most students named the costs of semester rooms, as well as the prices of meal plans and of Bear Necessities, the small convenience store in the Gorsuch Commons.

“We can’t compete price wise with someone who can live at home for free in Anchorage,” Hill said.

Nonetheless, Hill is convinced that living on campus can be a good option for many students.

“We believe that you get a lot for what you’re paying for when living on campus,” Hill said. “I would not say it’s cheap, but what you’re getting out of that is a high quality experience and one that is going to enhance your academic performance.”

The housing rates start at $3,150 per semester for a shared bedroom suite in the residence halls.

All students living in either North, West or East Hall, which do not have in-suite kitchens, are required to purchase a meal plan. The options available were updated at the beginning of this semester and range from $2,250 to $2,500 in price.

The survey shows that three in four students are satisfied with the variety of food offered in the Creekside Eatery. For students with special food needs, the findings are different; only 56 percent feel that their special food needs have been met by dining.

On campus residents interested in creating change for their residential community have the chance to get involved with the Residence Hall Association.

RHA is the student governing body for the UAA residential communities. Its members help create policies, plan a variety of events open to all students and advocate for residents’ concerns.

The association has a direct voice in university governance activities via a voting seat at USUAA.

Alexis Harvey, health sciences major and president of RHA, believes in the beneficial effects of on-campus living.

“The numbers speak for themselves. Multiple studies show that living on campus at least during the first year of college can significantly improve connections made, increasing your success and likelihood to stay enrolled,” Harvey said.

As UAA is a commuter campus, this could be particularly important for some students who are looking for the typical college experiences.

“UAA’s campus does not have the typical university feel,” Harvey said. “I believe living on campus allows students to get to know each other outside of the classroom through programming on residential campus, rooming together and even becoming a part of an organization, such as RHA, where they are able to actively give back to the community in which they are a part of.”

At the beginning of the spring semester, RHA will resume regular meetings every Sunday at 8 p.m. in either the Gorsuch Commons Room 107, or on the first floor lobby of each residence hall.