Students may think that full knowledge of the Bowdoin social scene comes just by living within the realm of the "Bubble," but the results from the "Bowdoin Student Life Survey" just released by the Gender and Women's Studies Department might leave even the most astute social butterfly surprised.
The survey of 461 students, conducted by Gender and Women's Studies 301 (Research and Social Activism), represents about 28 percent of the 1628 people in the student body and posed 40 questions that touched upon issues including body image, drug and alcohol use, and relationships.
While a variety of campus organizations run surveys, Professor Kristen Ghodsee of the Gender and Women's Studies department, who teaches the research class, said that the survey focuses more on the student experience than other surveys.
"Ours is the only survey that asks the question for the sake of asking the question. We're not trying to prove anything," she said. "We're interested more in student life and then breaking down the data to try to make some generalizations about what's going on."
However, the survey speaks for itself. Questions focusing on drug use resulted in some of the most notable findings'21 percent of those surveyed said that they had used prescription drugs recreationally, while 35 percent had used pot, coke, ecstasy, or mushrooms in the last month.
Dr. Jeff Benson, College Physician and Director of Health Services, said that the results were in line with what he would expect to correspond with national levels.
"We don't collect any of these statistics here at the Health Center, but I'd say our sense of usage rates are also consistent with these survey results," said Benson. "I'd say our rates are almost definitely lower than most schools nationwide, and, if drinking statistics are an indication, also probably lower than many of our peer institutions."
Perhaps the most anticipated results were those that focused on the "hook up" scene at Bowdoin. The survey found that 23 percent of students had never hooked up with anyone at Bowdoin, while 53 percent said that they had hooked up with one to five people. Sixteen percent said they had hooked up with six to 10 students, and eight percent said they had hooked up with 11 or more. Of those students surveyed, just over 12 percent said they had kissed someone of the same sex. Ghodsee said that these numbers might be lower than the actual numbers because of student "shyness" leading to a hesitation in responding.
While 30 of the questions, mostly in yes or no format, have remained the same since last year when the survey was started, 10 were changed that are specific to students' individual research projects that look beyond the data.
Senior Desneige Hallbert said that the class has started to break down the results and has already come up with some interesting information.
"Of the people who had ever been in at least a six month relationship, guys after the relationship ended were able to get back into the hook-up scene, whereas girls had a more difficult time," she said.
Though most data seemed to be aligned with expected results, Ghodsee said that she was struck by the results of a question that asked, "To what 'class' does your family belong?" Forty-four percent of the sample answered "upper-middle" class, while 12 percent said they were "upper" class. Thirteen percent answered "working" class and 31 percent said they were "middle" class.
"The class question really jumped out at me," said Ghodsee. "I was expecting a big bump in the middle class but that's not what we found."
The sample matched the percentages of the total campus on questions that asked about race, hometown, and class year, but Ghodsee said that a significantly higher number of women took the survey than men'286 women, 175 men.
"If it's skewed in any way, it would be caused by that," she said.
While the project is only in its second year, Ghodsee hopes to make it an ongoing one.
"Hopefully this will be done as long as I'm here, and I'm going to take this date and deposit it in the Bowdoin archives," she said. "This really looks at day-to-day life at Bowdoin College."