CivicCon Acadiana: Connecting Campus to Community was hosted on Nov. 1 at the Acadiana Center for the Arts.
One Acadiana and The University of Louisiana at Lafayette partnered and created a quality of life survey for UL Lafayette students. The goal of this survey was to find what students thought about living in Lafayette and on campus. This event presented the results of this 2023 survey and created a dialogue between students and faculty and the community.
Gretchen Vanicor is the Director of Sustainability at UL Lafayette. She presented and explained the results of the quality of life survey.
“We wanted to do this to measure attitudes towards the elements that students perceive as having the greatest impact on their quality of life,” Vanicor said. “We want to use the findings to strengthen our town and get engagement, improve student retention and recruitment.”
784 students responded to the survey and the three quality of life issues that were most identified as impacting students quality of life were crime, economy and roads/traffic.
Two-thirds of students rate the overall quality of life in Lafayette excellent or good. One-third of students think the quality of life is on an upward trajectory. The majority of students highly rated the availability of parks and recreation areas, entertainment options and festivals and arts.
Infrastructure supporting quality of life is rated lowest. Regarding the infrastructure issue, Vanicor explained that they separated freshmen and sophomore responses from junior, senior and graduate students’ responses because they feel differently. The longer students stay in the community, their perceptions of these issues change.
While the majority of the freshmen and sophomores think public transportation is good, road and traffic are fair, and bike paths and sidewalks are fair, the majority of the juniors, seniors and graduate students think these are poor.
The majority of the freshmen and sophomores think affordable housing, quality healthcare and public safety is fair along with the majority of the juniors, seniors and graduate students. The only difference being the juniors, seniors and graduate students rated the housing evenly fair and poor.
The Office of Sustainability did a pedestrian study in the fall of 2022. They had people counting the amount of crossings at and between the crosswalks of St. Mary Boulevard and Johnston Street and University Avenue and Johnston Street. They counted these crossings on a Monday and Thursday. On Monday, 3,903 crossings were counted with 407 happening in the middle of Johnston Street, not at a crosswalk. On Thursday, 3,410 crossings were counted with 445 happening in the middle of Johnston Street.
This shows there are lots of students crossing at all times of the day on campus, but the infrastructure for students is not there.
Regarding biking infrastructure, 78% of students described a negative biking experience in Lafayette. 50% of students walk to get around campus 5-7 days a week. 64% said they would bike or walk more often once the Bicycle Lafayette Plan is complete but at the moment they feel uncomfortable riding.
When students were asked about their community connections, the majority had mostly connections with other UL Lafayette students. The survey asked about the barriers students face to connect with the community. The top two answers were not having enough time and not having enough money, which not much can be done since college students will be busy, but the third highest answer was lack of awareness of existing opportunities.
Relating to the connection issues, a panel discussed ways to bridge the gap between students and the community. The panel consisted of Dr. Maggi Bienvenu, Jennifer LeMeunier, Dr. Melissa Lewis, Gretchen Vanicor, Kate Hughes and Grayson Stepanek.
To review the survey findings or watch the presentation, visit vibrantacadiana.org.