Peer Listeners conduct survey to assess needed changes

Libby Watkins

Credit: Mitchell
Credit: Mitchell

Many Whitman students delete the plethora of emails inundating their inboxes, thinking they do not pertain to them; some emails, however, can contribute to a student’s life more than they realize.

Whitman’s Peer Listeners group has been administering a confidential survey about student health at Whitman, asking students about how they’re dealing with certain issues like depression, stress, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, discrimination, ideals and resources.

“The purpose of the survey is to help our group assess the needs of the student body,” said senior Justin Daigneault, co-chair of Whitman Peer Listeners. “If we have information on campus health, we will be able to target certain issues that are affecting certain groups of students.”

Once the survey closes, the Peer Listeners analyze the responses and look for trends in data. With these trends, they find groups to target and brainstorm ways to counter the issues prevalent in the groups.

“We have taken a quick once-over with the results of the survey, but have yet to dive in and really pick at the nitty-gritty and go through all the write-in responses,” said Daigneault. The results will be used during the rest of the semester and for next fall.

The survey, conducted online, took students 5-10 minutes to complete, and asked questions not only for students who had dealt directly with these issues but also those who had friends or family members going through them. Daigneault says the survey was greatly improved from the one conducted last year, which was formatted in a way that made responding to it difficult.

“The results were very inconclusive given that a lot of the responses were faulty in the way they were asked and compiled,” Daigneault said. We were unable to make many correlations between the survey and the student body and so it was not very useful at all, besides allowing us to see what we needed to do better.”
Remaking the survey and reformatting it led to dramatically heightened participation. Last year, roughly 130 students took the survey; this year, more than 300 students responded.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout,” said Daigneault. He hopes that students will continue to express interest in events put on by Peer Listeners, particularly now that they will be working with their new results. The group plans to have more displays at Reid Campus Center, like the Valentine’s Day board expressing the advantages of being single and being in a relationship. Ultimately, Daigneault wants people to know that they have somewhere to turn if they need to deal with issues.

“We’re always here to listen.”