To the Editor:
This letter should be about civility. But The Oberlin Review and the Student Senate speak for themselves on that issue - and it resounded throughout the community.
Instead, I would like to address the reporting of surveys and statistics; in particular, that of the Student Senate Student Health Survey and the six Budget Deficit forums recently held for students.
First, the Student Health Survey. For a survey of such potential importance, certain fundamental survey techniques ordinarily would be followed and critical information published: What were the survey questions? How were they reviewed? What was the sample size? Was it a random sample? By what criteria? The 439 replies may represent 15.4% of the total undergraduate and graduate student body (2844) but what percent of the sample size are they? My understanding is that some surveys were mailed out and a stack of them was left in the mail room, from which anyone could take one (or more). To whom was the summary distributed? Is the raw data available for review?
The six Student Budget Deficit Forums, held over a two-week period, gathered verbal and written comments on the satisfaction/dissatisfaction with Student Services. Frequently, people who spoke submitted comment cards as well. A printed blue booklet summarizing the first three forums and tallying the comments was available to participants at the final forum in the Disco. The first page of this booklet stated that 90 percent of the students commented on the Multicultural Resource Center, 85 percent of the students commented on Student Health, 70 percent on Financial Aid, 70 percent on Dining Services, 60 percent on the Counseling Center, etc., etc. I attended three of the six forums. In no way did that many students speak on that many subjects. If they had, the forums would have lasted until daybreak. What do the figures mean? For certain, they are not the percentage of comments devoted to each topic (the complete list totals 440%). Maybe it says that, of the students who spoke/wrote, most commented on several topics. The presentation of this data in this manner is unclear and misleading.
Finally, contrary to the opinion of the editor(s), 72% to 82% of the student medical visits are to the Student Health office, consistently year to year. Believe me, I know the space is cramped and that I am busy.
Interestingly, the ratings and comments from a recent informal exit survey at Student Health are directly opposite those elicited by the Student Senate survey and the Student Budget Deficit Forums. This does not mean there are no problems or valid complaints, but in no way do they approach the magnitude of what is being represented as the common experience.
Instead of over-generalizations and anonymous accusations, it would be more helpful to have a balanced discussion of specifics. Unfortunately, ethical standards prohibit public discussions of the medical record, so there is no way for me to reply. The place for complaints is with the Health Plan Board which has the authority, by virtue of the complaint procedure, to make thorough investigations. The process is initiated with a form available at the office of the Dean of Residential Life and Services. The Health Plan Board is a student/faculty subcommittee of the General Faculty and oversees the Health Services of Students. Indeed, that is where the reports of surveys and evaluations should be directed. -Judith Appleton Medical Coordinator/ College Physician
Copyright © 1996, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 124, Number 16; March 1, 1996
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