Archive for December, 2009

Steph Seidel

Mass Media and Public Opinion Polling

University of Iowa students supportive of same-sex marriage and equal rights for same-sex couples

By Steph Seidel         

A vast majority of University of Iowa undergraduate students support same-sex marriage and believe that same-sex couples should be allowed the same rights as heterosexual couples, according to a recent poll conducted by a group of University of Iowa students.

The poll, conducted October 30 through November 10, shows that 73.5 percent of UI students support or strongly support the Iowa law that legalizes same-sex marriage. The percentage of UI students who strongly support the law (47 percent) is nearly four times greater than the percentage of UI students who strongly oppose the law (13.3 percent).

72.3 percent of students believe that same-sex couples should be entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples, while only 14.5 percent of student thought the government should distinguish between the two types of couples. 12.7 percent of students were unsure what rights same-sex couples should be afforded.

The poll surveyed 166 students via e-mail, and has a possible margin sampling error of plus or minus 7.6 percentage points.

When asked what effect allowing people of the same gender to marry would have on our society, 42.2 percent of UI students said that it would change our society for the better and 23.5 percent of students thought there would be no change in society. 21.7 percent of UI students thought allowing people of the same gender to marry would affect our society for the worse and 12.7 percent of students were unsure of the effect on society.

Seventy-nine percent of UI undergraduate students say homosexual couples should be legally permitted to adopt children. One participant in the poll commented, “I babysit for a homosexual married couple and have never seen a house filled with more love, respect and order than theirs”.

The poll, which was conducted by students in Dr. Qingjiang Yao’s Mass Media and Public Opinion Polling class, studied University of Iowa students’ opinions on same-sex marriage about six months after the state of Iowa legalized same-sex marriage on April 27th, 2009.

Iowa became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage last spring when the Iowa Supreme Court overturned the state’s statutory ban on gay marriage, an event that turned national attention towards Iowa.

A previous poll conducted by the Des Moines Register showed that only 26 percent of Iowans favor the legalization of gay marriage in Iowa, 43 percent oppose it and 31 percent don’t care much or are not sure. 

The support of same-sex marriage is much higher amongst University of Iowa students compared to Iowans as a whole, but these results are consistent with the University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll conducted last spring. According to the Hawkeye Poll, 60 percent of Iowans under thirty support same-sex marriage, and young adults, women and Democrats are more likely to support same sex marriage. University of Iowa associate political science professor David Redlawsk explained that the same-sex marriage debate is hugely generational, and many younger Iowans feel it is a non-issue.


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Mass Media and Public Opinion
December 10, 2009
University of Iowa students feel disappointed with police downtown but feel safe, poll finds
By Jordan Underwood

IOWA CITY, Nov. 26- Recent outbreaks of violence between males as well as the increased amount of sexual assaults on females has led to concerns expressed by University of Iowa students about downtown safety.

A poll done on Oct. 19-22 by four students of Dr. Yao’s Mass Media and Public Opinion class found that 88.7 percent of the respondents believed that the police needed to step up there duties and better protect students that go downtown.

But only 18.6 percent feel they are unsafe when they go downtown, 1-5 on a scale of 1-10, 1 being very unsafe and 10 being completely safe.

The poll surveyed 150 across the campus. The margin of sampling error for the poll is plus or minus 6.7 percent.

This poll was taken after several weeks of reports that people were unsatisfied with the police protection downtown as attacks continue to increase. Police officers have responded by increasing the amount of on duty officers in the downtown area where a majority of the bars are located.

Senior member of the group David McNance found that on any given night during the school week there will be one to two officers in each section of the districts of Iowa City, but there is up to seven officers patrolling the downtown district.

The local bars are also getting involved with the safety issues plaguing the downtown area. Six bars downtown have begun to pay the overtime salaries of two extra officers downtown during those heavy drinking nights during the school year.

With the increased amount of officers in the downtown area, the bar owners as well as students feel that the level of safety will significantly rise and the owners don’t mind fronting the extra bill of $894.11 for the extra officers.

“I know with the increased amount of officers I will be more inclined to walk home and feel safe about it” said junior Julie Nakis.

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Geoff Waring
December 10

Students Take Aim at Student Health
UI students find Student Health clinics to be an average/slightly below average experience
Iowa City- University of Iowa students are not thrilled with their Student Health Services new research suggests. In a recent poll conducted by several journalism students, 50% of all respondents felt that the UI healthcare systems treated its patients average or below average. An additional 11% felt that the service was inadequate while 9% thought the service was above average.
The poll might come as a surprise to employees at the Student Health and Services clinic. Over the last few years the clinic has taken strides to become more actively involved in the student body’s college experience. By the spring semester of 2010 Student Health will have successfully launched over 25 educational programs open to UI students of all ages. Still some might say their efforts so far are to no avail.
While a quarter of the student respondents described their overall experience at Student Health to be a good one, 35% of them found the experience to be either bad, or simply average. Of the polled students it was evident that the females were much more critical of Student Health than were their male counterparts. 30% of the females felt that Student Health’s service was bad, or inadequate, while only 23% of the males voted similarly.
Student Health is looking to take a more prominent role in the community this next semester. Starting this spring anyone UI student to get a public intoxication ticket or a PAULA will have to pay a mandatory visit to Student Health where they will assess whether or not the student has alcohol problems and may need counseling. With sub-par opinions of Student Health in the first semester, it will be interesting to see what the student body thinks of Student Health next semester.

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Des Moines Register

December 10, 2009

Majority of students feel safe in downtown Iowa City



IOWA CITY, Dec. 10 – According to a recent Mass Media and Public Opinion poll, 90%  of undergraduate students at the University of Iowa (32% never and 58% sometimes) feel at least somewhat safe in downtown Iowa City despite the increase in violence in the area.

The poll, conducted Oct. 8-22, found that overwhelmingly, 89% of undergraduate students at the University of Iowa feel that watching out for students to make the streets safer is the most important issue for Iowa City police.

The poll surveyed 500 University of Iowa undergraduate students. The results of the poll were based on a response rate of 30% (150 students).

The top three most important issues for Iowa City police, determined by the University of Iowa students that took the poll, were safety, violence and sexual assaults. Thirty-seven percent of the students stated that safety should be the biggest concern and 20.7% stated that violence was most important. Eighteen percent of the students viewed sexual assaults as the leading issue for Iowa City police.

The University of Iowa student survey was taken on the heels of increased violence in the downtown Iowa City area over the past years. Beginning in 2006, sexual and physical assaults began to rise in the downtown and surrounding areas. In the spring of 2009, violent assaults against males began to become more prevalent in the downtown area which led to a three-part series in The Daily Iowan discussing the topic.

Since the increase in violence started, the Iowa City police have increased the number of officers present in the downtown area and have also employed a Nite Ride program for females. The program is designed to give women a safe way to get home after being downtown without fear of being assaulted.

Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine stated that there are at least four perpetrators that are a part of the sexual assaults around the downtown area. One of those men is responsible for a majority of the over 30 sexual assaults that have taken place. According to Hargadine, alcohol has played an important role in most cases.

In recent months there have been increasing criticisms of the downtown area and how safe it is. Issues surrounding alcohol have come to the forefront of the community and have been taken up with the city council. With over 20 bars being located within a mile radius in the downtown Iowa City area, alcohol related arrests are common. However, of the 150 students that responded to the survey, 71% said that they had never received a ticket before by the Iowa City police. On the contrary, seven percent of the students had received a ticket and 21% had received more than one ticket from the police.

According to the Mass Media and Public Opinion poll, the students differed in terms of what they feel should be the number one priority of the Iowa City police.

The majority of students believed that safety should still be the first concern.

“They should be making sure that it is safe for students to walk home at night, as well as not feel as if they will get beat up on their way home,” the anonymous student said.

Although there have been a number of news stories produced that discuss the issue of safety in the downtown area, the majority of students feel relatively safe and believe that the Iowa City police has an adequate level of police presence in the area.

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Iowa Legalizes Same Sex Marriage: A Look Back at the Past Year
By Christin Meyer
Same sex marriage became legalized on April 3rd, 2009. As the year has progressed we look back at how the law has altered many Iowans lives. A poll was conducted to reflect back at how Iowans perspectives have changed with the law becoming part of our state.
Iowa was the third state to legalize marriage. Massachusetts and Connecticut have allowed same sex couples to marry in their states for the past couple of years. With Iowa becoming the first Midwestern state to allow marriage the demographics on the issue show significant differences. The survey and research wanted to determine how much the new law has affected fellow Iowans. The data has relieved many different viewpoints on the issues, through the analyzing and research many categories of responses have been created. The Survey consisted of 11 questions and there were 166 respondents.
The goal in the first question was to determine the amount of people who strongly support, support, oppose, or strongly oppose to the law a year after it has been in effect. 46.6 percent of the respondents strongly support same sex marriage combined with the 27.1 percent of people who agree our data shows that 73.3 percent of our respondents support same sex marriage. This only leaves 26.6 percent of the surveyors to oppose same sex marriage. These numbers were slightly surprising. Over half of the students surveyed support the legalization of same sex marriage. To elaborate on the significance of this question the next question was based on how people feel same sex marriage could affect our society as a whole. The question was stated as followed: Do you think that allowing two people of the same gender to marry will change our society? The highest response was 70 percent of the people feel same gender marriage will change our society for the better. As the numbers in support for same sex marriage are significantly higher than the opposed the outlook on this issue has become very positive.
Taking a step back into the courtroom on the day the previous 1998 law defining marriage between one man and one woman was overruled may lives were changed. Lambda Legal took on Polk County and defended six same sex couples. The defendants in the case were pleading for the equal rights in the institution of marriage. Without the equal legal rights granted by the government through marriage, same sex couples were unable to visit a sick partner, claim joint taxes, or hold onto the same last name as their partner. The surveyors were asked to respond to the legal issues on same sex marriage. When asked if same sex couples should be entitled to the same government benefits as heterosexual couples 72.2 percent felt they should be entitled to the same benefits. 14.5 percent felt the rights should be distinguished between same sex and heterosexual couples. An option for distinguishing the two different cases would be to allow same sex coupes the right to civil unions. For many of the people who wanted to distinguish benefits between same sex couples and heterosexual couples could have strong religious values or morals that do not believe same sex marriage should be allowed at all.
As the survey points out many different view points on the issues surrounding same sex marriage we also tried to define the basics of gay and lesbian people. The respondents were asked their opinion on how people become homosexual. 65 percent believe people are born homosexual, 5.5 percent feel people become homosexual because of the way they were raised, and 29.4 percent feel people make the choice to become homosexual. Taking the 65 percent of the people who believe people are born homosexual it is hard to argue that if a person is born a certain way they should be denied the legal rights of marriage.
Along with marriage, adoption has also become a huge issue. With marriage being allowed should adoption be the next wish granted? Many studies have shown that a child raised in a household with same sex couples have been deprived from having both a mother and a father show slight psychological problems. There is a significant difference in how a man and a woman interact with their children. Both the mother and the father play important roles in the disciplinary and nurturing styles in which the child raised with. Everyone is capable of being a loving and supporting parent but is there a negative side to having two parents of the same sex? 78 percent of our surveyors felt that same sex couples should legally permitted to adopt. With the number being significantly high our survey has concluded that people do feel same sex couples are compatible to raise children. The students surveyed are of the adult age and therefore have been raised and brought up most likely in a household with both a mother and a father. Without the experience of having same sex parents some argue the answer to the issue has not been successfully found.
With the final verdict declaring the previous marriage law unconstitutional same sex couples were granted the right to marry their significant other. As the six families were granted their wish many other same sex couples also rejoiced. With conclusion of the surveys data on how University of Iowa students feel about the new law the courtroom on that April day was filled with celebration. Jason Morgan was one of the defendants who responded to the new law by saying, “We’ve been together in sickness and health, through the death of his mother, through the adoption of our children, through four long years of this legal battle,” Morgan said, choking up. “And if being together through all of that isn’t love and commitment or isn’t family or isn’t marriage, then I don’t know what is.” Morgan’s story demonstrates how two people who love each other deserve the right to legally show it. Morgan and his partner have adopted children and are now able to receive benefits that will greater benefit their family. The Morgan family, along with other same gender families, together have fought their way through the legal system, and have successfully won. With a year gone by the law our survey has proved that it has had an overall positive effect on many Iowans lives.

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Abby Sojka

Poll Story


The Changing Appetite of Dorm Food

            As new freshman enter the dormitories every year, they also enter the inevitable life of dorm food. They walk into the marketplace seeing the vast array of food selection. Some students may easily get tired of the selection, while others may not want to leave when the year is over. A survey conducted by a group in Dr. Yao’s class went behind the lines to find out what students stomachs are really saying about dorm food.

            We decided that after living the dorm experience freshman year, the one downfall we noticed was dorm food. How is the food ever going to change if all that is being done is complaining? We thought up some simple, but information worthy questions. Many of the questions were single select and a few with open ended responses.

The survey itself surveyed around 400 students , with only 27 complete responses. This was an alarming response rate. What were the surveyors doing wrong? We felt that the rising concerns of the taste, appearance and quality would have produced more responses and opinion among students.

            The poll conducted from November 2 – November 4 showed that only 38% of students surveyed agreed that the food at Burge and Hillcrest marketplaces is well cooked and well prepared. We asked this question due to concerns of food quality and students possibly having stomach aches after eating meet at the market places.

            Rarely do we hear students complaining about the convenience of using their Hawk ID to purchase meals, nor do they complain about the pricing of the daily meals. 59% of students surveyed believed that the food served at the market places were not set at a reasonable standard what so ever. Meals at the University are set at $7.50 per meal with each meal plan. The meal plans range from 10, 14, and 21 meals per week. However, students may not agree with the pricing of the meals, but 80% of students surveyed agreed that being able to U-Bill their meal plan is extremely convenient.

            65% of students surveyed agreed that the dining halls are spacious enough, and 53% believe that there are not enough options offered at the marketplaces. However, if the dining halls were only concerned about spacing and meal plan options, they would be in good standing, but that is not the case. Many students responded to questions regarding tastes and quality with neutral, disagreeable, and rarely agreeable answers. This shows that the majority of students would enjoy better options and more variety. In response to the open ended question, “How can the cafeteria improve their food and service?’ Students responded with, “more variety!” ‘Healthier food!” “More fresh variety, less grease!!”

            Overall, we believe that the University could change its food service habits. It needs to change just as the students change. Options could be healthier, and prices could be more reasonable per meal.  We notice that although students may not be saying anything, when they are given the opportunity to give their opinion privately and quietly, the truth about how they feel really comes out an hopefully, the University will keep developing the quality of their food with correspondence to the changing  needs of the students.

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Introduction to Topics
December 10, 2009

Students Main Concerns About Resistance Hall Food
By: Ashley Carlson

IOWA CITY, IA, Dec. 10- After living in the dorms freshman year and eating in the dining halls, caused a group of college students at the University of Iowa to survey undergraduate students about their opinion on the food served in the Burge and Hillcrest dining halls. The poll results indicated that undergraduates eating at the dining halls are not satisfied with the food, which can be answered from the poll.

The students randomly surveyed twenty-seven people via email. The poll only had twenty-seven respondents to the survey. The poll had a margin of sampling error of 4.97 percent. However

The poll surveyed students during October and November after there were many concerns about the student’s satisfaction with the food. Attendance seemed to be low at the dining halls, which caused the students to conduct a poll to research why attendance was low and complaints that were being made about the dining halls.

The poll that was sent out via email to students and asked questions such as; is the food well cooked, how good does it taste, how healthy is the food, and how reasonable is the food priced. After analyzing the poll, four percent strongly agreed that the price was set at a reasonable price, while twenty-three percent agreed. Fifteen percent were neutral, forty-six disagreed and twelve strongly agreed. This showed that most students were not satisfied with the price.

Students did express positive feedback about the dining halls at the University of Iowa. Students thought that the dining halls were spacious and have enough sitting for every student to enough their meal. Seventy-seven percent of students surveyed believed that the seating was satisfactory to their standards of spaciousness, while fifty-seven percent of students believe that the University of Iowa could expand seating in the dining halls.

The survey also reviled that many students wished that the dining halls offered more vegetarian meals. One student responded to the part of the survey that allowed students to voice their opinions, “ I wish there were healthier foods and more fruit and veggie options offered at the Burge and Hillcrest Cafeteria.” Additionally, students thought that there was a lack of food choices during certain hours of the day, which could be why attendance is low. “ Increasing food supply between two o’ clock and four thirty would be a better benefit to be,” stated one student.

The poll results showed that students were most disappointed that the dining halls did not have enough food options offered to the students. Thirty four percent of students desire that Burge and Hillcrest offer more selection to students, however, twenty nine percent believe that there is enough options for students to chose from.

This survey had a lack of respondents, which is a flaw in the survey. Since it only collected information from twenty-seven respondents, it had a low amount of data. If the survey were to be conducted again it would be important to do further research to get better results. Nevertheless, University officials at Iowa should be concerned about the student’s opinions about the dining halls.

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