By: Yosef Lemel | Features  | 

Commentator COVID-19 Survey Results: An Analysis

Editor’s Note: For the purposes of this article, “more difficult” refers to students who indicated that they found aspects of online classes to be “more difficult” or “much more difficult,” and vice versa for “less difficult.” This rule is true for every measure of student opinion in this survey unless indicated otherwise.

Over the past week, The Commentator conducted a survey on the experiences of students during the COVID-19 crisis, their transition to online learning and other policies of the university in response to the pandemic. The following article presents a detailed analysis of the results. 


Overall, the survey polled 290 students, or 15% of the undergraduate student body. 

102 respondents (35%) are Yeshiva College (YC) students, 120 (41%) are Stern College for Women (SCW) students, 49 (17%) are male Sy Syms School of Business (Syms-Men) students, 18 (6%) are female Sy Syms School of Business (Syms-Women) students and 1 (.3%) is a Katz School student.

103 respondents (36%) are in their first year on campus, 85 (29%) in their second year, 79 (27%) in their third year and 23 (8%) in their fourth year or beyond.

84% of the students polled live in the Eastern Time Zone. 

In the analysis, specific conclusions or extrapolations were not drawn from the results of specific groups with a low sample size, such as respondents from Syms-Women, the Katz School and fourth-year students. 

Survey Results 

Overall, 66% of respondents find online classes to be more difficult than in-person classes. 

92% of students also expressed that it was more difficult for them to maintain focus during online classes when compared to in-person classes. Of that number, 57% found it much more difficult to maintain focus. 

Smartphone use during class has also increased with 86% of students saying they use a smartphone more frequently during online classes, and 56% of that number saying that they use smartphones in class much more frequently. 

Students’ responses were more diverse when it came to maintaining their class schedules. 40% find it more difficult, 39% find it neither more nor less difficult and 21% find it less difficult to maintain their class schedules when compared to in-person classes. 

When looking at their experiences with online learning, 41% say that they frequently encounter technical difficulties, 20% say they experience technical difficulties neither frequently nor infrequently and 39% infrequently experience technical difficulties. 52% of women frequently experience technical difficulties during online classes when compared to 30% of men.

Only 14% of students say their classes have been “Zoombombed.” Zoombombing is an unwanted disruption of a Zoom session, usually by strangers. When broken down by college, 33% of Syms-Men, 17% of YC and 6% of SCW students say their classes have been Zoombombed. 

Overall, 68% of the student body is satisfied with the university’s response to the COVID-19 health crisis. 21% are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied and 11% are dissatisfied.

The university announced the implementation of a pass/no credit (P/N) option for undergraduates. 46% of the overall student body is satisfied, 24% is neither satisfied nor dissatisfied and 28% is dissatisfied. When broken down by college, 39% of YC, 48% of SCW and 57% of Syms-Men are satisfied by the policy. 

Overall, only 20% of students plan on using the P/N option while 40% will not and another 40% are still unsure as to whether they will use the option. Interestingly, 39% of Syms-Men say they will use the P/N option when compared to 16% of YC and 18% of SCW. When broken down by year, 32% of third-year students say they will use the option when compared to 16% for second-year and 17% for first-year students.

President Berman recently announced that the university will provide full refunds for remaining caf card balances as well as a 30% refund of spring semester housing charges. 66% of students expressed that they are satisfied with the refunds compared to 21% who are dissatisfied. 34% of students think that the refund policy is more generous than they expected, 39% say that it is neither more nor less generous than they expected, and 24% say that it is less generous than they expected. 


We primarily followed the methodology used in the previous surveys of The Commentator over the past two years. 

We reached out to students through the Wilfevents/Berenevents email lists encouraging students to sign up for the survey, gathering a total of 290 interested undergraduate students. We conducted a raffle with a $50 Amazon gift card as the first place prize to motivate respondents. We also confirmed that respondents were current undergraduate students with YU’s Office of Student Life. The survey was conducted through SurveyMonkey. All responses were completely anonymous.

Several confounding factors may have skewed the survey in a certain direction that was not representative of student opinion as a whole. For example, while Syms-Men are 28% of the undergraduate student body, only 17% of respondents to our survey were from Syms-Men. YC students were overrepresented in our survey, comprising 35% of the survey respondents while only being 23% of the student body. These factors, among others, may have affected the results of the survey. 

Photo Caption:  Overall, 68% of the student body is satisfied with the university’s response to the COVID-19 health crisis.
Photo Credit: The Commentator