By: Avi Hirsch and Yosef Lemel | Features  | 

Commentator Spring 2019 Survey: A Comprehensive Analysis

Editor’s Note. For the purposes of this article, unless otherwise specified, “satisfied” refers to students who indicated that they are either “satisfied” or “extremely satisfied,” and “dissatisfied” refers to students who indicated that they are either “dissatisfied” or “extremely dissatisfied.” Likewise, “comfortable” refers to students who indicated that they are either “comfortable” or “extremely comfortable,” and “uncomfortable” refers to students who indicated that they are either “uncomfortable” or “extremely uncomfortable.”

Over the past several weeks, The Commentator conducted a survey of current Yeshiva University undergraduates about a wide array of issues related to the college experience. In this article, we present a detailed breakdown of our results.

 

INTRODUCTION

Overall, the Spring 2019 survey polled 368 undergraduate YU students, or 17 percent of the total undergraduate student body.

160 respondents (43 percent) are Yeshiva College (YC) students, 66 (18 percent) are male Sy Syms School of Business (Syms-Men) students, 121 (33 percent) are Stern College for Women (SCW) students, 18 (5 percent) are female Sy Syms School of Business (Syms-Women) students and three (1 percent) are Katz School students. (Since such few Syms-Women and Katz School students responded, our analysis will not devote specific attention to those schools.)

126 respondents (34 percent) are in their first year, 127 (35 percent) in their second year, 90 (24 percent) in their third year and 25 (7 percent) in their fourth year or beyond.

 

RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE

Overall, 66 percent of survey respondents identify as Modern Orthodox, compared to 22 percent who identify as “Right-wing” Orthodox or Yeshivish, 4 percent who identify as Not Orthodox and 8 percent who identify as Hasidic, Chabad or other.

Overall, 88 percent of undergraduate students mostly or fully observe halakhah.

The 145 Mazer Yeshiva Program (MYP) students who were surveyed were asked about their seder/shiur attendance. 78 percent of MYP respondents indicated that they always attend, versus 17 percent who frequently attend, 3 percent who sometimes attend and 2 percent who rarely attend.

Overall, 88 percent of undergraduate students mostly or fully observe halakhah. Only 5 percent of undergraduate students either do not or mostly do not observe halakhah.

Undergraduate men attend minyan for shacharit more frequently than do undergraduate women. During the week, 73 percent of undergraduate men either always or often attend shacharit, versus only five percent of undergraduate women who either always or often attend shacharit. A similar trend occurs on Shabbat, when 81 percent of undergraduate men either always or often attend shacharit, versus 50 percent of undergraduate women who either always or often attend shacharit. Only 6 percent of undergraduate men never attend Shabbat shacharit, versus 18 percent of undergraduate women who never attend Shabbat shacharit.

Overall, 77 percent of YU undergraduates believe fully in God. 14 percent of undergraduates tend to believe, 3 percent have doubts and 2 percent do not believe in God. 68 percent of undergraduate students indicated that they are shomer negiah, versus 24 percent of undergraduate students who indicated that they are not shomer negiah.

There were notable discrepancies seen regarding religious observance between YC and Stern students compared to Syms-Men students.

68 percent of YC students and 70 percent of Stern students identify as Modern Orthodox, versus 58 percent of Syms-Men students who identify as Modern Orthodox. 19 percent of YC students and 18 percent of Stern students identify as “Right-wing” Orthodox or Yeshivish, versus 35 percent of Syms-Men who identify as “Right-wing” Orthodox or Yeshivish.

59 percent of YC students and 63 percent of Stern students fully observe halakhah, versus 74 percent of Syms-Men students who fully observe halakhah. 68 percent of YC students and 65 percent of Stern students are shomer negiah, versus 77 percent of Syms-Men students who are shomer negiah.

A notable discrepancy can be found between all of the undergraduate colleges regarding their respective beliefs in God. 71 percent of YC students fully believe in God, while 79 percent of Stern students and 89 percent of Syms-Men students fully believe in God.

 

INTERCAMPUS ISSUES

Overall, students from the Beren Campus are more likely to travel to Wilf than vice versa. 50 percent of women and 13 percent of men say they frequently or occasionally commute to the campus of the other respective gender. 33 percent of men stated that they rarely travel to the Beren Campus compared with 39 percent of women who said that they rarely traveled to the Wilf Campus. 53 percent of men said they never travel to the Beren Campus while only 10 percent of women said they never travel to the Wilf Campus.

With regard to the question of a woman speaking at the end of Shabbat morning minyan on the Wilf Campus, 46 percent of men are comfortable while 44 percent of men are uncomfortable. The survey showed that 67 percent of women are comfortable with a woman speaking at Wilf. Only 19 percent of women said that they would be uncomfortable with that prospect.

Both men and women are comfortable with the opposite gender studying in the library on their respective campus.

73 percent of women said they are comfortable with men eating in the Beren cafeteria on Shabbat. Male respondents are split on the issue, with 46 percent saying they would be comfortable versus 44 percent saying they would be uncomfortable with women eating in the Wilf cafeteria on Shabbat.

Both men and women are comfortable with the opposite gender studying in the library on their respective campus. 65 percent of men and 81 percent of women stated that they are comfortable with an individual of the opposite gender studying in the library on their campus. Only 26 percent of men and 11 percent of women said that they would be uncomfortable in that situation.

Most male and female respondents reported being comfortable attending a coed extracurricular event. 62 percent of men and 81 percent of women said they would be comfortable attending a coed extracurricular event. Only 27 percent of men and 12 percent of women said they would be uncomfortable attending a coed extracurricular event.

 

SOCIAL/PERSONAL

Though the vast majority of YU undergraduates — 92 percent — have never used YUConnects, our survey found a disparity between men and women, where 11 percent of undergraduate women have used the service, but only 4 percent of undergraduate men have used the service. We found a similar discrepancy in the realm of dating, with 40 percent of undergraduate women currently dating for the purpose of marriage, versus only 28 percent of undergraduate men currently dating for the purpose of marriage.

Undergraduate women are noticeably more active on social media compared to undergraduate men. 90 percent of undergraduate women use Facebook or some other social media account, versus 70 percent of undergraduate men who use Facebook or some other social media account.

23 percent of YC students spend at least 15 hours per week on school work outside of class, versus only 5 percent of Syms-Men students who spend at least 15 hours per week on school work outside of class.

Undergraduate men on average learn more Torah per week compared to undergraduate women. 66 percent of undergraduate men learn Torah for at least 11 hours per week, compared to only 15 percent of undergraduate women who learn Torah for at least 11 hours per week. Overall, 95 percent of YU undergraduates learn some Torah each week.

Aside from learning Torah, 39 percent of YU undergraduates spend at least 6 hours per week on social media. 37 percent of YU undergraduates spend at least six hours per week consuming visual entertainment (sports, TV, movies, video games, etc.), and 72 percent of YU undergraduates spend at least six hours per week on school work outside of class. One discrepancy we noticed was that 23 percent of YC students spend at least 15 hours per week on school work outside of class, versus only 5 percent of Syms-Men students who spend at least 15 hours per week on school work outside of class.

The vast majority of YU undergraduates do not use recreational drugs or party. Only 10 percent of YU undergraduates have used recreational drugs, and only 23 percent of YU undergraduates have partied. Undergraduate men are more likely to drink alcohol than undergraduate women, with 53 percent of men drinking at least occasionally, versus 32 percent of women drinking at least occasionally. 31 percent of undergraduate men drink at least once a month, versus only 16 percent of women who drink at least once a month. By year, 33 percent of first year students, 45 percent of second year students and 59 percent of third year students drink at least occasionally.

 

STUDENT LIFE

Men tended to be more satisfied than women with YU cafeteria food and prices, although students from both campuses tended to disapprove strongly of cafeteria prices. While 69 percent of men are satisfied with the cafeteria food, only 27 percent of women felt the same way. And while only 17 percent of men are dissatisfied with the food, approximately half (49 percent) of women felt that way.

Students from both campuses are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with cafeteria prices. 63 percent of men and 79 percent of women stated that they are dissatisfied with cafeteria prices, while only 9 and 7 percent, respectively, are satisfied.

There was a divide in satisfaction between men and women regarding the YU library, with men tending to be more satisfied (81 percent satisfied) than women (49 percent satisfied).

Students from both campuses are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with cafeteria prices.

Both men and women disapprove strongly of the elevators on campus, with women tending to be less satisfied than men. Only 4 percent of women reported being satisfied with the elevators, compared to 20 percent of men. A majority of both men and women reported being dissatisfied with the elevators, with 53 percent of men and 86 percent of women expressing dissatisfaction. Furthermore, nearly half (46 percent) of women are “extremely dissatisfied” with the elevators.

Although both Syms-Men students and YC students are dissatisfied with elevators at YU, Syms-Men students are less satisfied overall, with 68 percent of Syms-Men students and 47 percent of YC students disapproving of the elevators.

In many other areas of student life, students from all colleges are satisfied overall, including “Dorms/Housing” (55 percent of students satisfied), “Internet/IT” (74 percent satisfied) and “Extracurricular Options” (55 percent satisfied).

Both men and women disapprove strongly of the elevators on campus, with women tending to be less satisfied than men.

Across the board, older students tend to be less satisfied with most areas of student life. (Note that we refrained from drawing conclusions from fourth year students, since they represented only 7 percent of respondents.)

Satisfaction with cafeteria food ranged from 64 percent, to 50 percent, to 46 percent among first, second and third year students, respectively, while 21, 32 and 32 percent of first, second and third year students reported being dissatisfied. Older students are also less satisfied with cafeteria prices — 13, 6 and 4 percent of first, second and third year students, respectively, are satisfied, while 62, 74 and 76 percent are dissatisfied.

This trend holds for other areas of student life, with older students being less satisfied with Shabbat on campus, as well as having a more negative “overall” sentiment towards student life at YU.

The survey found that men tend to stay on campus for Shabbat more often than women, and YC students more often than Syms-Men students. 27 percent of women and 50 percent of men stated that they are “frequently” or “always” on campus for Shabbat, while 56 percent of women and 26 percent of men stated that they are “rarely” or “never” on campus for Shabbat. 36 percent of Syms-Men students and 54 percent of YC students stated that they are “frequently” or “always” on campus for Shabbat, while 38 percent of Syms-Men students and 20 percent of YC students stated that they are “rarely” or “never” on campus for Shabbat.

74 percent of students stated that they are currently involved in clubs on campus, versus 26 percent who stated that they are not.

 

ADMINISTRATION

With regard to student opinion of the administrative offices, academic advising fared the worst. 40 percent of undergraduate students polled are satisfied with academic advising, versus 37 percent who are dissatisfied. Comparatively, 42 percent of students are satisfied with the Office of Student Life (OSL), compared to 20 percent who are dissatisfied, and 61 percent of students are satisfied with the faculty at YU, versus only 16 percent who are dissatisfied.

With regard to student opinion of the administrative offices, academic advising fared the worst.

The Career Center divided male and female students. Overall, 26 percent of men and almost half (46 percent) of women are satisfied, compared to 22 percent of men and 18 percent of women who are dissatisfied.

When asked about President Berman’s job performance and vision for YU, many students — primarily women — answered “Don’t Know/Not Applicable.” 18 percent of women stated that they are satisfied with his performance, 13 percent that they are dissatisfied, and 47 percent answered “Don’t Know/Not Applicable.” 22 percent of women stated that they are satisfied with his vision for YU, 6 percent that they are dissatisfied, and more than half (51 percent) answered “Don’t Know/Not Applicable.”

Men generally seemed to be more opinionated than women regarding President Berman’s job performance, although Syms-Men students were more likely than YC students to choose “Don’t Know/Not Applicable.” 21 percent of Syms-Men students and 24 percent of YC students approve of his performance, and 21 percent of Syms-Men students and 24 percent of YC students disapprove. 32 percent of Syms-Men students and 24 percent of YC students answered “Don’t Know/Not Applicable.” There was a similar spread in responses to President Berman’s overall vision for YU.

Men generally seemed to be more opinionated than women regarding President Berman’s job performance.

When asked to evaluate YU’s administration overall, a plurality of students (31 percent) stated that they are dissatisfied, compared to 27 percent who reported being satisfied.

 

ACADEMICS

Syms-Men students are more satisfied than YC students with regard to their secular studies core. 42 percent of Syms-Men students said they are extremely satisfied or satisfied with their secular studies core, compared to 34 percent of YC students.

Syms-Men students are also more satisfied with the Jewish studies core than YC students. 36 percent of YC students and 62 percent of Syms-Men students are extremely satisfied or satisfied with the core. 44 percent of Syms-Men students and 18 percent of YC students are extremely dissatisfied or dissatisfied with the Jewish studies core.

75 percent of the undergraduate body have admitted to using a phone in at least one of their classes.

YC and Stern students tend to take books out of a YU library at a higher rate than Syms-Men students. While 65 percent of YC students and 57 percent of Stern students have taken a book out of a YU library, only 33 percent of Syms-Men students have done so.

There are notable differences between the various YU undergraduate schools regarding cheating. 55 percent of Syms-Men students, 44 percent of YC students and 40 percent of Stern students said that they have personally witnessed cheating incidents in YU classes. 44 percent of Syms-Men students, 31 percent of YC students and 26 percent of Stern students are satisfied with the YU administration’s current policies on cheating. Only 6 percent of Syms-Men students, 3 percent of YC students and 3 percent of Stern students have admitted to cheating on an exam and/or plagiarizing material for an assignment.

75 percent of the undergraduate body have admitted to using a phone in at least one of their classes. There was no notable statistical difference between the various undergraduate schools with regard to phone use. When taking into account the progressing years of the undergraduate population, there is a notable statistical difference between them. 68 percent of first year students, 77 percent of second year students and 82 percent of third year students have admitted to using a phone during at least one of their classes.

 

METHODOLOGY

We mostly followed in the footsteps of our political poll that we conducted last semester. Before conducting that poll, we reached out to Professors Silke Aisenbrey and Daniel Kimmel, who advised us on methodology to get the most accurate and representative results possible.

Like last time, we reached out to students via email and social media, as well as through their professors, gathering a total of 428 interested undergraduate students from Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women, Sy Syms School of Business (Men), Sy Syms School of Business (Women) and the Katz School. We conducted a raffle with a $150 Amazon gift card first place prize (double our prize from last semester) to motivate respondents. Before opening the survey to these students, we reviewed all respondents with the YU Office of Student Life to ensure that they were all current undergraduate students and to eliminate duplicates. 368 students completed our survey over the next week.

Survey respondents were highly distributed among different majors. Of the 368 respondents, 13 percent are majoring in biology, 11 percent are majoring in computer science and no more than 10 percent are majoring in any one other field. Respondents were distributed over more than 30 different majors.

Several confounding factors could have skewed our results in one direction. For example, Syms-Men constitutes 26 percent of total YU undergraduate students but only 18 percent of survey respondents. Additionally, because only 5 percent of our respondents attend Syms-Women (comprising 11 percent of the college), 1 percent of our respondents attend the Katz School (comprising 6 percent of the college) and 7 percent of our respondents are in their fourth year, we refrained from drawing conclusions from these data sets.