Defining the St. Paul student

A survey would identify needs of students on the St. Paul campus.

Hailey Colwell

 

To make long-term plans for the smaller, quieter and more agricultural part of the Twin Cities campus, the University of Minnesota’s Office of Institutional Research may create a survey to collect St. Paul student opinions.

Students on the St. Paul campus have not been studied in the past because of the difficult task of determining what a St. Paul student is, OIR director Ron Huesman said.

Whether a student lives on the campus, is enrolled in a St. Paul-based academic program or spends a lot of time there would be taken into account before collecting any data, Huesman said.

Studying St. Paul students’ satisfaction with academic programs, faculty and facilities would help the University develop campus improvement projects for its long-term capital plan, said Peter Radcliffe, executive director for the University’s Office of Planning and Analysis.

The University Senate Committee on Educational Policy will determine in the coming months whether a new survey should be created.

Since creating a survey is expensive and time-consuming, Huesman said OIR staff may look into ways to use information from the Student Experience in the Research University project, a survey the University gives to undergraduates to measure student performance and opinions.

“We’ve kind of put all our eggs in one basket, so to speak, because that’s the one survey that we concentrate on doing,” Huesman said.

Using SERU responses to learn about St. Paul campus students would require determining who spends the most time there, Radcliffe said.

“Trying to isolate a true St. Paul student … isn’t always a possibility,” Radcliffe said, “but we are looking at … where students are spending the bulk of their time and seeing what insights we can glean from that.”

The survey may also be used to compare students’ sense of community on the St. Paul campus with that of Minneapolis, Huesman said.

Interior design freshman Samantha Klapperick, who lives on the West Bank but takes all of her classes in St. Paul, said students on the St. Paul campus don’t feel the same sense of community as students on the bigger and busier Minneapolis campus.

“I think they feel like it’s a whole other place over here, Klapperick said. “They’re kind of left out of everything.”

Bailey Hall freshman Emily Engeriser said the quieter atmosphere on the St. Paul campus creates a stronger community, not a detached one.

“Even if I’m not connected with every single person,” she said, “I still know their face.”

Graphic design professor Steve McCarthy, who works on the St. Paul campus, said he’s surprised a survey targeting students on that campus wasn’t conducted 50 years ago.

“Surveying the user is the most critical piece of information you can have,” he said.

Though it would be useful to study students who spend most of their time in St. Paul, he said no student belongs exclusively to that campus.

“I don’t think there is a St. Paul student,” McCarthy said. “I think there’s a University of Minnesota student.”