USC releases survey results

12-month bus pass receives 55 per cent support

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

A recent survey has revealed Western students want an on-campus grocery store, a 12-month bus pass and are more satisfied with the University Students’ Council’s services than four years ago.

The online questionnaire, conducted by the USC every four years, also revealed students are largely unaware of student awards and the USC’s political lobbying activities.

“[The survey provided] very interesting results in that they, in many ways, confirm some of our suspicions on what we can improve,” USC President Stephen Lecce said.

The survey received 4,669 responses, or 15.6 per cent of eligible part-time or full-time students.

The 12-month bus pass received support from 55 per cent of respondents, an increase from 46 per cent in the 2004 survey.

“If that’s something that council felt was important we would go forward with some sort of motion and possibly a referendum to give students the opportunity,” USC communications officer Rachel Halpern said.

“But before we do that we have to find out prices, which are still up in the air.”

She added the increased fee, if approved by students, would be mandatory with no opt-out.

The grocery store was the most requested service in both the 2004 and 2008 surveys, surpassing responses for a movie rental service and a music store.

“We’ll look into the feasibility of that and the expense. Obviously we wouldn’t want to bring something in if we couldn’t compare the prices to market prices,” Halpern said.

The USC has asked three groups of Ivey students to prepare a retail strategy plan to determine the best use of space inside the University Community Centre.

“They’ve recognized that students are saying, ‘Well it would be nice if we had a grocery store.’ That’s always been a very prominent request or suggestion,” USC VP-finance Matt Kington said. “The problem with that is the turnover of foods and actually getting a business to come in and do that.”

The USC is currently trying to improve profitability of its operations in the UCC. While The Spoke Lounge introduced the Western One card this year to increase sales, 31 per cent of surveyed students said this option was “not applicable” to them.

The Spoke’s kitchen manager Gary Irwin defended the plan as being extremely popular.

“Maybe they need to know more about it,” Irwin said. “But here it works well. I’ve had many days when a lot of my sales are through Western One.”

A principal concern of the USC is the 80 per cent of respondents who are unaware that a part of their student fees support lobbying and political activities.

Two external lobbying groups, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, receive a part of student fees collected by the USC to advocate for student issues like lower tuition, financial aid and accessibility.

Another concern is the 60 per cent of respondents who are unaware of scholarships and bursaries offered by both the USC and Western.

“Students have given us [feedback] that it’s not necessarily easy to find those opportunities,” Lecce said. “Effectively they’re asking us to find a solution and so we will.”

Student Health Services was selected as a “very important” student-funded service more often than other such services with 73 per cent, followed by the Financial Aid Office with 60 per cent and Campus Recreation with 56 per cent.

The results of the survey are available online at www.usc.uwo.ca.

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