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Survey indicates strong levels of approval for faculty, COVID-19 response

May 14, 2021

As the College’s year of mostly virtual learning concludes, 73 percent of students approve or strongly approve of their spring 2021 classes, while only 17 percent disapprove or strongly disapprove of their classes.

In a slight overall decrease from the fall 2020 semester, 77 percent of students feel the College is handling the COVID-19 crisis well or very well—slightly down from 81 percent of students approving of the College’s response to the pandemic in fall. Only seven percent of students believe the College was handling the crisis “very poorly.” Last May 85 percent of survey participants believed the College was handling the COVID-19 crisis well or very well.


The biannual Bowdoin Orient Semester Survey was sent to the entire student body and received responses from 385 students or 19 percent of the student body.

All seniors, juniors and sophomores, as well as first-year students with home situations deemed not conducive to online learning, were invited to reside on campus or live “in residence” in off-campus housing. This semester, most courses were remote, but a small number of in-person courses were open to students residing on campus or “in residence.”

The majority of students living on campus generally approved of the College’s COVID-19 thrice a week testing program, with 85 percent feeling satisfied or extremely satisfied. The Spring 2021 residential community agreement proved to be more divisive, with 53 percent of students feeling some satisfaction or extreme satisfaction while 40 percent of students expressed some dissatisfaction or extreme dissatisfaction.

Students were extremely satisfied with Student Activities’ Friday food trucks, with 76 percent expressing some satisfaction or extreme satisfaction.


The faculty continued to be the most approved-of department at the College, with approximately 91 percent of survey participants approving or strongly approving and no participants strongly disapproving. The second highest department was dining services at 77 percent approval or strong approval.

Brunswick Police Department had the lowest approval rating—40 percent of participants disapproved or strongly disapproved. The Office of the Dean of Student Affairs received a 34 percent disapproval or disapproval rating—the second-highest disapproval rating of all departments and offices. The Office of the Dean of Student Affairs’ disapproval rating increased by approximately 10 percent from the Orient’s fall 2020 survey, when it was 25 percent.

Many students felt neutral about much of campus life. The majority of participants, 63 percent, felt neutral about the Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC) and the Entertainment Board (E-board). Overall, students felt neutral towards departments such as the Office of Off Campus Studies and Bowdoin Student Government.

As in the fall, opinion on President Clayton Rose was fairly split. However, Rose saw his approval rate rise from 30 percent of participants approving or strongly approving during the fall 2020 semester to 36 percent this spring. Rose received a 33 percent neutral rating and a 31 percent disapprove or strongly disapprove.


The majority of students are satisfied with the College’s fall 2021 plan; however, many participants expressed some confusion about some aspects of it, including the calendar.

“I’m most anxious about making sure I’m able to fly out. Airplane prices are rising again and waiting for an answer on when we’ll be moving in is nerve wracking,” one survey participant wrote.

“I do not believe the student body currently knows enough about next semester, however I also understand that this stems from admin not being able to see the future,” another participant wrote.

Across all grades, approximately 60 percent of students reported being “happy.” The Class of 2021 reported being 16 percent more happy this semester than in the fall, when the majority of the class resided off campus. The Class of 2024 though, was nine percent less happy this semester than in the fall, when the majority of the class resided on campus.

Overall, the majority of students, 85 percent, believe that December 2021 will be similar to a pre-pandemic level of normalcy.


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One comment:

  1. Steven '22 says:

    Love seeing the change in “are you happy”. To the moon!

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