As part of a new project, the Andover student body received a survey consisting of five multiple-choice questions about parietal rules on Monday, April 15. The survey was released by PollPA, a project co-led by Miles McCain ’19 and Jeffrey Shen ’19, and included questions such as “Do you agree with the following statement? ‘Current parietal rules are problematic.’”
“PollPA is a project where we’re sending casual, short, and fun polls to the student body. They’ll be able to see results immediately after they submit the poll, and the goal is to ask interesting and thought-provoking questions but also not take ourselves to seriously,” said McCain.
While the survey received almost 700 responses from students, many students and faculty were not able to receive the email because it was marked as spam. As a result, Shen and McCain hope to relaunch the survey later this week.[a][b]
“We did a beta test on Friday to the computer science club and techmasters mailing list, and we got around a 60 percent response rate, so we didn’t really suspect anything was out of the ordinary, but when we sent it out to the entire school, we realized a lot of people were getting the message blocked by their spam filters… What we’re doing right now is talking to the IT department to get the email whitelisted, so it won’t get blocked in the future,” said Shen.
Ariel Wang ’21 enjoyed the survey due to its brevity and immediate access to results.
“It was super short —I think I did it in a minute or two—and that’s what I like about it…I feel like this [survey] will probably provide you with more data to use later…They also provided a code to read if you don’t trust that it is anonymous, and I really liked that,” said Wang.
PollPA plans to send out at least two polls a week during the spring term, covering topics from graduation uniforms to parietals. Shen and McCain chose the controversial topic of parietal rules as the first poll because they hoped it would bring attention to their new project, along with allowing students to voice their opinions on the issue.
“We think it’s an issue that is talked about on campus, but it’s not necessarily quantified… the data is really not that specific. As far as I know, the administration has not released any data on it, so it’s a question I know a lot of students want answers to. It’s also our first poll, and we think a lot of students have an opinion on it, so we wanted to build engagement for our platform,” said Shen.
After taking the survey, students can immediately view the results, which are grouped by grade and by question. PollPA is currently working with the Dean of Students office to make further use of the data collected in each survey.
“The Dean of Students office has been talking to us about how they want us to ask certain questions and they’d like to look at the data, of course anonymously, in the same way that everyone else can look at the data, so they can better understand campus discourse. While we’re not going to put together some sort of presentation, we do hope that people will see this data and it will help put numbers to a lot of campus discussions and help gauge opinion,” said McCain.
Shen and McCain came up with the idea behind PollPA during winter term, but decided to wait until their Senior spring so that they would have more time to devote to the project. They hope that the surveys will be a fun way to quantify and bring attention to campus issues.
“The key is that it’s student-centered, and you can see the results immediately… we’re asking the entire student body questions that they want to hear, and are touching on issues that people care about. We want to be relevant, and polling the entire student body is a lot of responsibility,” said Shen.