By: Victoria Shelton
Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) is an international honors society for college students; The Vol State Chapter of PTK conducted a student needs assessment survey to identify areas of greatest need for Vol State students. The purpose of this survey was to determine which areas of student concern might need funding reallocation. This survey was conducted across all Vol State campuses.
Several areas of concern included access to child care, mental health services, and access for students with disabilities.
The survey found that one third of the student body has dependents and of that number 41% do not feel like they have adequate access to child care. Vol State has been found to have a lower student retention rate for students with dependents than other colleges in the state. 63% of students surveyed said they would find adequate child care services helpful while a majority of those surveyed favored redistributing funding to aid in child care services. Possible solutions to the child care issue included partnering with a local day care, providing early childhood education courses, subsidizing child care costs, and establishing a family friendly community by providing family-friendly spaces on campus.
The Healthy Minds Study, which collects data from 373 campuses nationwide, found that, “During the 2020–2021 school year, more than 60% of college students met the criteria for at least one mental health problem”.
Of the Vol State students surveyed, 27.2% said they do not have access to mental health services and 86% of respondents said they feel mental health services would be beneficial to their college career. 85% were in favor of redistributing fees to enhance mental health services. Some possible solutions recommended were continuing to fund the Well Pass Grant, developing community partnerships for low cost services, provide counseling and/or campus support groups, and coordinate the facilitation of on campus twelve step groups.
Disability access and services was another area of concern according to the survey results. The survey found 27.4% of participants reported having a disability while only 3.4 % reported having filed accommodations paperwork, additionally only 1.7% of students have sent accommodations to faculty. Some possible solutions and recommendations included increasing the number of students registering in the first year, creating marketing materials to reduce stigma around registering for accommodations and continued support for the Access Center.
The Student Government Association (SGA) has formed a committee which will be releasing a survey based on the PTK needs assessment. Christina Robinson Race, SGA Vice-President is leading this initiative. “We are releasing an SGA Student Survey in the coming days. Many of the questions on the survey are designed to dig deeper into the results from the PTK survey and help us understand how we can best meet the needs of the student body and what initiatives we can take to help in the areas we identify are most needed,” said Robinson Race.
Students are encouraged to voice their concerns and get involved with the initiative in order to determine the best course of action moving forward. The SGA General Assembly will meet every other Tuesday at the Gallatin campus at 11:15. These assemblies are to allow students to help make decisions that can better campus life. If you would like to help make a difference, getting involved with SGA is a great way to have your voice heard.