Romantic, Social, and Political Climate on Campus

Chances are that if you’re a freshman, you’re more open to the idea of a frat party on a Friday night in late January than if you’re a senior. Chances are that if you’re female and Asian American, you are stressed out for different reasons than your white male friends. Chances are that if you’re involved in campus activism, you think certain issues are more important than others. But, really, what are the chances?

In the fall semester of 2015, Enigma launched the “Tufts Trends Census,” a survey that circulated through email and social media to probe undergraduates about different aspects of student life with the intention of exploring these hypothesized chances. Our survey consisted of 40 multiple choice and ranking questions ranging from “How stressed out are you?” to “How much do you drink?” to “Rank these campus issues by importance.”

So, after collecting more than 600 responses across 4 classes and more than different 50 majors, what did we find? Mostly, more questions to ask. Here’s an overview of some of the trends (but don’t take our word for it, check out the responses yourself!)


Romantic Life

Whether you have your cuffing partner for the impending blizzard-y winter or your “Netflix and chill” really just includes you and Netflix, all Jumbos have something to say about their ideal partner, relationship status, and more. We’ve selected a few findings from the Tufts Trends’ relationships section to share in this article and to see where the love is at Tufts.

Our responses show that getting to know someone is the first step, regardless of whether you’re looking for a one-night stand or “the one.”

For top qualities in a sex partner, establishing a prior relationship – long-term, casual, or even platonic – are the top selling points. Interestingly, venues that seem quintessential to the college experience such as meeting at a frat party or Tinder are the two least-desired qualities in a sex partner.

For the top qualities in a romantic partner, similar personalities, intelligence, and chemistry bubble up to the top. “Good looks” follows directly behind and holds a higher priority for romantic partners than for a sex partner (I guess your partner needs to be easy on the eyes when things get long-term…). Meanwhile, demographic traits like racial/cultural background, age, and height are not quite as significant in a significant other.

So, if you look at the percentages in this infographic (and the one before) it may look like our math doesn’t add up. Indeed, our percentages add up to over 100 percent, thanks to our checklist-styled questions. This type of survey questioning allows students to select more than one opinion – and when it comes to a relationship status, we know that it can be difficult to just choose one.

This shows us that most Jumbos are “single and on the prowl” followed by “committed.” In the future, we hope to analyze the unique combinations people chose for their relationship status such as who’s “doing long-distance” and “committed” or who’s “single and not looking to date” but “casually hooking up.”

The mystery of Tufts’ relationship statuses will be coming up in a follow-up series of Tufts Trends articles!


Social Life

During a Jumbo’s four years at Tufts, many hope to grow wiser in their passions, the world they live in, and… maybe even the social scene. We had a lot of fun comparing what each graduation considers the coolest scene. But even if we can’t agree on where the place is to hang on a Friday night, we can at least find solidarity in that over 90% of us are all drinking (shocker).

Housing situations seem to affect students perspective on the predominant social scene is. With off-campus housing mostly dominated by juniors and seniors, it makes sense that over 50% of upperclassmen who took the survey find off-campus parties as the place to be, while less than 25% of first-years and sophomores think that’s the case. Furthermore, for 35% of first-years and 25% of sophomores, dorm parties are the place for Jumbos to go out, while only 8% of juniors and a measly 4% of seniors think that’s the case.

What do students think of frat parties as a social scene? If you looked at where people think their fellow Jumbos are going out, frat parties appear to be a pretty well-liked and popular party scene.  However, when you look at people’s personal preferences for social scenes in the interactive bar chart – what they themselves think are fun partying venues – frat parties have the highest percentage of negative responses and the lowest percentage of neutral opinions for almost all years. Senior respondents have over 50% of negative responses and a nearly non-existent percentage of neutral opinions. Our “Where’s The Party At?” barchart shows how polarized our preferences and opinions about Tufts social scenes become as we grow.

Based on our alcohol related questions, the consensus is that most Tufts students (who took the survey) like to drink. The end goal, however, varies slightly from “drinking if it’s an option,” to “wanting to feel tipsy,” to “wanting to get drunk.” Another popular choice was “I don’t need it to have fun” at 30.5%. However, compared to the 8.7% of responses saying “I don’t drink,” it looks like most Jumbos are going to grab a lukewarm beer, regardless.


Stress Climate

With the current discourse on mental health issues on college campuses – whether they should be paid more or less attention – it’s worth looking at some field data, even if it’s only a community sample.

On the whole, fewer respondents who self-identified as “he/him/his” reported utilizing on-campus mental health services as compared to other respondents. This data reflects national trends; women are larger consumers of mental health care than men, though it is not clear if this means women have higher incidence of mental health problems or that men are less comfortable seeking help. While this doesn’t necessarily mean we can make any casual inference about mental health and gender identity, it does bring up more questions. What particular issues (i.e. stress management, academic pressure, anxiety, depression, and others described by Tufts Student Life) disproportionately affect certain gender groups than others? Moreover, how well does the diversity of our service staff reflect the statistics of its patient demographics?

In our survey, we asked people to report their current stress level on a scale from 1 to 10 (this survey was released the middle of the semester, i.e. peak midterm season).

By year, sophomores take the cake with the highest mode stress level of 8. In addition, we wanted to analyze stress from two other dimensions: race and gender. From a racial perspective, our statistical question was simple – are non-white respondents disproportionately stressed out compared to their white peers?

In fact, they are… but not with any real statistical significance. Conclusion: further study is needed. However, responses to specific causes of stress were significant (p < 0.002).

Of the most significant results: white respondents ranked “School” as a greater cause of stress more often than non-white respondents, and interestingly, “Sports” and “Partner” stress out “He/him/his” pronoun users more than “She/her/hers” pronoun users (we didn’t include “They/them/theirs” stress levels because there was not enough data / statistical significance). Do certain aspects of relationships truly stress men out more than women


Issues

We often read about protests of groups like Tufts Climate Action and #thethreepercent, but do these groups really represent student opinion?  When Tufts Labor Coalition demonstrates, do they represent a legitimate concern about the administration’s treatment of janitors on the behalf of the student body, or are they a lone group of activists? In order to try to parse this out, we divided all Tufts students into two groups, “active” and “nonactive,” based on their response to the question “How involved are you with political groups on campus?” We also asked respondents to rank the importance of various campus issues on a 1 to 5 scale, to see how much Jumbos really cared about issues like campus racism and Tufts divestment from fossil fuels.

Here’s the overall spread of opinion:

The two “groups” only showed a statistically significant difference (p < 0.05) on two issues: Tufts Janitorial Cuts and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. On average, politically active students felt these issues were more important than their less involved counterparts. Here’s a comparison of the two groups:

The fact that politically active and non-active students actually aligned on a majority of issues could mean that activists do indeed represent real campus concerns, or that they have done a good job raising the awareness among their peers.


The Next Census

One of our favorite parts of the Tufts Trends Census was the feedback section. Here, survey responders got to submit support, suggestions, and questions about the survey and what they’d like to see next year.


I like the heading for social things ‘ITS GONNA B LIT!!!’


While we enjoyed making the survey a fun experience through our questions, phrasing, and short format, that left many subjects unexplored and some questions vague and confusing.

According to our feedback, sexual identity, religion, Tufts administration, and social circles at Tufts are just a few topics that students would like to see on our survey. Additionally, we received comments our relationship questions had a heteronormative focus and that our ranking questions had misleading wording.


I would like to know how students view speech on campus. For example, are students feeling censored? On what topics? What percent of students truly feel safe to speak their minds on any topic?


As the creators of the very first Tufts Trends Census, we are excited to take your feedback and make a census that does what we intended to do: reflect the questions and interests of the student population. Hearing your feedback tells us that the census can be the platform to answer the unexplored questions at Tufts for the students by the students. While there will always be more questions to ask and new topics to explore, we are excited to expand on our census to give you new answers and more data on the Tufts undergrad population with our annual Tufts Trends Census.

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Soubhik Barari
Editor-in-chief.
Soubhik Barari is a senior majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics. He can be reached at soubhik.barari@tufts.edu.
Nina Joung
Co-Editor In Chief
Nina Joung is a sophomore majoring in American Studies and minoring in Film and Media Studies. She can be reached at nina.joung@tufts.edu.
Cathy Perloff
Cathy Perloff is a freshman considering majoring in Spanish, Political Science, and Psychology. She can be reached at Catherine.Perloff@tufts.edu.

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