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Survey: ETSU students give Johnson City positive rating

Rex Barber • May 15, 2012 at 10:24 PM

What do East Tennessee State University students think of Johnson City?

A recent survey designed by an ETSU geosciences class suggests students are largely satisfied with the town and have a positive perception of it.

“I think that the students like ETSU and they like Johnson City and they’re overall very satisfied with both of those,” said Richard Freeman, an ETSU graduate student and one of the study’s researchers.

This “sense of place” study was conducted by ETSU assistant professor Catherine Chen’s modern geographic concepts class during April 13 through 20. The survey was designed to measure well-being from the perspective of a college student. The questions focused on overall opinion of Johnson City, how well Johnson City met the needs of students and opinions of services provided in Johnson City and ETSU.

“That’s not to say it’s a reflection of those services,” Freeman said. “But we’re measuring how do people feel about those services.”

Freeman said he did not think such a study has been conducted.

One of the most striking results of the study was students’ perception of campus safety, Freeman said. Overall, students rated safety more positively than any other aspect of the survey. Female students felt only slightly less safe than male students.

“I attribute it to the very visible depth ETSU is taking to make the campus safer,” Freeman said.

There are bright red emergency phones located throughout campus, sirens to warn of danger, improved lighting and an alert system that uses text messages and emails.

Students also rated Johnson City as friendly and accepting, Freeman said. Public transit in the city was also viewed positively by students. The city operates a service called the BucShot, a series of shuttle buses that run through campus and allow easy and quick access to outlying parking areas of campus and also to nearby apartment complexes.

Students also rated highly shopping and recreation in Johnson City. The survey results indicated Johnson City was a good place to do things students like to do.

Opportunities for employment in Johnson City and traffic were viewed as less positive by survey respondents.

Freeman noted he has friends who work around Johnson City but the jobs are indeed limited.

“And I would say there’s never going to be enough jobs,” he said. “There’s 15,000 students and the majority of them would like a job in a town with 60,000 people. There’s just not 10,000 extra jobs available.”

There were 110 student respondents. There were 49 male students and 61 female students in the survey. Freeman said researchers personally asked students to participate in the survey rather than sending out emailed surveys, which is a common technique. Freeman said this approach allowed for more responses and a wider sampling of students.

The respondents were grouped by age into three categories; 20 and younger; 21-25 and older than 25.

“Of those groups the people who were younger than 21, they were much more positive about everything,” Freeman said. “Many of them are out on their own for the first time and the world is their oyster.”

Female students also were more positive than male students, according to the survey results.

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