February 13, 2013

Letter To The Editor

To the Editor:

I was initially concerned about – and eventually disappointed by – the poll you published in the January 31st issue of The Dickinsonian.

In said poll, you asked current students to consider their experience at Dickinson, and indicate whether that experience would have changed their initial decision to enroll. A deeply concerning percentage of respondents – 64 percent – indicated in your survey that they would not attend Dickinson, knowing what they know now. This is a staggering figure, and it immediately raised issues for me and many of my colleagues in student government. Your poll was discussed during a Student Senate convening, and I brought it up in several meetings with staff and faculty. I was outraged by the quality of student experience that this poll indicated Dickinson provides.

As it turns out, some of my outrage was misplaced. In the past few days, I have learned several things about The Dickinsonian’s methodology that I believe are troubling, and that I feel should have been disclosed when you published the poll. The startlingly low response rate (<1%) and unreliable collection method (an envelope outside an office door) both merited reporting, but neither factor is mentioned in your paper.

Student Senate stands as a willing contributor to any discussions about student life at Dickinson. We have always represented the diverse views of students – negative and positive – in the College’s many conversations about the student experience, and we support their continuation. What we cannot support is reporting that glosses over methodology and damages our institutional reputation. We hope you’ll consider the student experience issue with a more critical eye in the future, and serve as a partner in carefully considering these important questions.