WEST LAFAYETTE – As a deadline nears about whether to return to Purdue in person or opting for online classes for the fall semester, a new survey shows that a large majority say they plan to be back on the West Lafayette campus.
But the survey of more than 1,300 students, released last week by Purdue Student Government, shows concern about things will work when they arrive and whether the Protect Purdue Plan – the university’s reopening playbook – will be enough to keep campus safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
The survey also suggests that students don’t trust their classmates to follow the rules set out by what the university is calling the Protect Purdue Pledge – a commitment for students, faculty and staff to “take responsibility for my own health, the protection of others and help keep the Purdue community safe from spread of COVID-19.
More: How will Purdue reopen in the fall? Here’s the Protect Purdue Plan
Nine out of 10 of the students in the Purdue Student Government survey said it was unlikely students would follow those rules outside the classroom or off-campus.
The survey comes on the heels of one the faculty-led University Senate conducted in June, in which 52 percent of the 7,234 professors, staff and graduate students who responded said they felt unsafe about returning to campus for a fall semester with in-person classes. That survey also cast serious doubt of student behavior, with 92 percent saying they were not confident students would “socially distance appropriately outside the classroom” including at bars and parties.
More: More than half Purdue faculty, staff feel unsafe returning to campus this fall, survey says
It also comes as undergraduates face a deadline Monday night about whether they want to take the next semester remotely or return to campus.
Purdue Student Government recruited undergraduates through email and social media to take the survey, fielding 1,357 – an amount that represented roughly 4 percent of the undergraduate enrollment at the start of the fall 2019 semester. Freshmen and incoming students, who don’t have campus email accounts, were recruited via Facebook, according to PSG.
Of those who responded, here are some of the findings.
How likely would components of the Protect Purdue Plan work?
- 63 percent said it was likely or somewhat likely that the Protect Purdue Plan would be “effective in maintaining a safe and healthy campus.”
- 50 percent said it was likely that students would social distance appropriately in classroom settings.
- 49 percent said it was likely they would abide by social distance rules off-campus. And just 10 percent said it was likely other students would practice social distancing outside the classroom.
- 38 percent of the students said they thought it was unlikely faculty and staff would do the same on social distancing when they left campus.
- 90 percent of the students said it was likely they would wear a mask in designated areas on campus. But 30 percent said it was unlikely other students would abide by on-campus mask requirements.
- 83 percent said it was likely they’d get a flu shot this fall – which Purdue has mandated in the plan.
- 60 percent said it was likely they’d monitor their temperature daily.
Returning to campus: 80.6 percent of them planned to be on campus for in-person. Nearly 13 percent said they were still unsure about whether to return, take online course or not enroll.
Reasons to come back: The survey asked students sure about returning for their reasons, telling them they could check as many boxes that applied. Among them: 86 percent said they learned more effectively on campus; 85 percent said, “I want to return to campus;” 78 percent said they wanted to be involved in activities or organizations on or near campus; 74 percent said they wanted to see their friends; 72 percent said they wanted access to campus resources; and 51 percent checked “fully online classes seem like a hassle to me.” Among the write-in reasons given: Students had apartment leases that couldn’t be canceled, they felt online classes were not worth the price, they had limited WiFi or inadequate working space at home, they were required by their major to be on campus, or they simply missed Purdue.
More: Mitch Daniels delivers ‘Protect Purdue Pledge’ to senators who ask: Can colleges reopen safely?
Reasons to opt for the online classes: 77 percent of those who said they would take courses online said they didn’t feel it was safe to return to campus, and 68 percent said their families didn’t think it was safe. Of those, 25 percent said they had health conditions that put them at higher risk for COVID-19, and 10 percent said they did not want to follow Purdue’s safety guidelines for masks and social distancing.
Meal plans: Purdue is lining up its on-campus dining courts as grab-and-go operations, instead of dining in. The survey asked students living on campus what concerns they had about that. Of those, 71 percent said they were concerned their freedom to choose what to eat and when would be limited; 71 percent thought there would be limited variety; and 70 percent were concerned that the meal plan wouldn’t be worth the cost. Also, 53 percent said wondered whether they would be able to eat with friends. Among the write-in concerns: What would dining look like in cold or bad weather?
FOR MORE: To read the full Purdue Student Government survey and for a look at the Protect Purdue Plan, go to jconline.com and click on the link to this story.
Reach Dave Bangert at 765-420-5258 or at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @davebangert.
THE SURVEY RESULTS