WORCESTER – Late last week, The Worcester Student Government Association (WSGA) released the results of a survey on student life in Worcester.
The survey, taken from mid- November to Dec. 31, 2017, was comprised of 23 questions that covered various aspects of student life including overall satisfaction, transportation, participation in local events, safety, housing preferences and other topics.
“These results show us that there is an opportunity to engage students. From the survey results, it is apparent that students want to get off campus and explore Worcester, but they just don’t have the knowledge of the events happening and most don’t have access to transportation readily available or the know-how to use the WRTA,” said Emilee Cocuzzo, President of the WSGA.
“As we move forward, we know these are continuous trends and issues that students face each year. Therefore, we are confident that there are tangible solutions to these problems. We promise to work collaboratively with the various parties involved and continue to be the voice of students in the City of Worcester, ” Cocuzzo added.
The 520 survey responses were submitted by students at Anna Maria College, Assumption College, Becker College, Clark University, College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences – Worcester, Worcester State University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The survey was conducted with assistance from the Worcester Regional Research Bureau.
Here are the key insights from the survey, according to the WSGA:
· Overall Satisfaction: The majority of students are satisfied living in Worcester (56%), with 24% responding “neutral” and only 20% of students indicating they are not satisfied living in the city.
· Transportation: More students feel it is easy to access downtown (43%) than the 31% who do not. However, more than 86% of students have never used Worcester’s public transportation to travel within the city. Less than two percent of students use the WRTA buses more than six times a month. Students primarily use their own cars or Uber to get around – less than six percent use taxis. On open-response questions, students suggested the implementation of a college shuttle; however, more students believe that transportation could be improved if there were more bus stops and routes near their campuses and better information about using the WRTA.
o Compared to a previous WSGA transportation survey, conducted in the fall of 2014, more than 68% of students stated that they never used the WRTA. This suggests an 18% increase over three years in the number of students reporting that they have never used WRTA buses.
· Events: More than 45% of students do not attend events off-campus and only 49% say they attend events off-campus one to three times each month. The three most popular events in Worcester among students are concerts at the DCU Center, StART on the Street/at the Station and the Shrewsbury Street Shuffle. The majority of students (69%) said they stay on their campuses most of the time. More students felt uninformed on happenings in Worcester (44%) than those who felt informed (29%). When asked what types of events students want to see in the city, many suggested art and cultural events with food, such as festivals, parades and musical performances.
· Downtown: When asked what types of businesses college students would like to see in Downtown Worcester, most responded with a focus on retail spaces that include budget-friendly food options, such as Chipotle, or entertainment venues, such as a movie theatre or 18+ clubs.
· Housing: For students graduating in May 2018, 18% plan to stay in Worcester, 49% do not and 33% had not yet decided. The majority of students (66%) said that if they were to stay in Worcester after graduation, that they would prefer to live in an affordable apartment.
Other notable insights include:
· Walkability: Students are split on whether they consider Worcester “pedestrian friendly,” with 35% responding that it is and 30% responding that it is not. The remaining respondents were neutral on the matter (35%).
· Safety: 35% of students responded that they do not feel safe in Worcester, while 29% do feel safe. When asked what contributes to a sense of safety, many responses noted an additional police presence and better street lighting in more locations.