Stage two completed in market research project

At the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union board of directors meeting on Friday, president Laura Sheridan updated members on the current results from the ongoing market research project.

Phase two has concluded and the findings contain results from the survey conducted as well as the focus groups, both of which took place during the fall semester.

“The themes were fairly consistent with what we thought they were going to be,” said Sheridan. “Students saw advocacy as a top priority of what the students’ union should be doing, and that’s something I heard loud and clear.”

Sheridan continued, adding that WLUSU branding and communication also came out of the results, ensuring that students know what the students’ union is and what it can offer them.

“It was good to see that the positive impressions of WLUSU outweighed the negative,” said Sheridan, adding that students complimented WLUSU’s business operations, orientation week, clubs, social activities and website.

One of the things that received negative feedback from students was inclusiveness, as students felt disenfranchised from WLUSU.

“It needs to be a priority for us to communicate the diversity of what the students’ union does … and that the students’ union can offer them something, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a volunteer position.”

Another result Sheridan presented was the finding that Waterloo students were very satisfied with their out-of-classroom experience but expressed some concerns about academic resources and support within the classroom.

Brantford students on the other hand, were the complete opposite, stating they were very happy with their academic experience but felt some of the support services were lacking.

Students also expressed concerns that were not necessarily associated with WLUSU; however, Sheridan assured that these would be passed on to the university administration. Some of these concerns included the information technology on the waterloo campus as well as recreation facilities in Brantford.
“I’m working together with Tom Buckley right now to pull together a lot of the IT updates that are very relevant to students and send that out over email to undergraduate students,” said Sheridan, adding that one of her goals as president was to work with technology concerns.

Another immediate change will be communicating to students through the WLUSU annual report about what the students’ union has been doing this year; working with city officials, administration and some of the advocacy projects they have been working on this year.

“From my perspective, I know all of the advocacy we do internally and externally but [the results] show me that we need to communicate it better. I need to take a step back and think that if students want more of something, it’s because we’re not doing it at all or because we’re not communicating it.”

There are also some long-term goals that arose out of the second stage of the project. The first is a restructuring of the public affairs department in order to enhance effective communication to students. The second is the Brantford Strategic Plan, which according to Sheridan will really define what students in Brantford want from their students’ union.

The next and final stage of the market research project will be a third, large online survey for students.

“We had talked about doing it this term but we have so much fantastic data from this year, we were thinking about delaying it a year to really take advantage of it. Then we can get feedback on the changes we have made into next year,” said Sheridan, adding that all of the results and plans will be transitioned to president-elect Kyle Walker and recently hired vice-president public affairs Pam Blomfield.

Sheridan concluded that overall she thinks the market research project has been as positive thing for the union, despite having raised multiple concerns when it was first presented.

“It reinforced things that we knew we had to work on, but it’s really given us that extra drive to make sure we are making the changes that students want.”

Project history

At the June WLUSU board meeting, director Andrew Fryer proposed a $25,000 amendment to the budget in order for the students’ union to undergo a market research project.

The purpose of the project was to allow students to give WLUSU their feedback in order for the union to better represent students.

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