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UCSU Cost Centers Survey - Spring 1997

Student Use, Excellence Ratings, and Importance Ratings of the 12 University of Colorado Student Union (UCSU) Cost Centers

Summary. 250 graduate and undergraduate students were interviewed in April 1997 about their familiarity with, use of, and opinions about the importance and excellence of the 12 cost center services run by CU-Boulder's student government, UCSU. 80% had used at least 3 of the services. Non-users were asked reasons for non-use; users were asked to rate the services on excellence. The recreation center, student union, and health service are used by the most students and are rated highest in importance. The rec center and women's resource center are rated most highly by their users. Most non-users of a particular service were unfamiliar with that service or cited a lack of need and/or interest in it as reason for not using it.

Background. The study was conducted by Student Affairs Research Services (SARS) at the request of UCSU, which paid for direct expenses ($2,570) and SARS staff time ($1,300). UCSU, the cost center directors, and VC of Student Affairs Jean Kim have or will receive more detailed reports.

UCSU is the University of Colorado Student Union, the campus' student government. The 12 cost centers (all described on the UCSU web page) are

  • UMC, University Memorial Center, the student union
  • Wardenburg, the student health center
  • The Student Recreation Center (Rec Center, with pool, track, ice rink, gyms, etc.)
  • The Environmental Center, which runs CU's recycling program plus educational programs and environmental projects
  • Student Legal Services, with attorneys who offer inexpensive legal advice to students and represent students in both civil and criminal cases
  • Off-Campus Student Services, which helps students find off-campus housing and roommates, and has information on leases, deposits, and so on.
  • The Women's Resource Center, WRC
  • VCH, Volunteer Clearing House, which helps students find volunteer opportunities.
  • The Cultural Events Board, which sponsors speakers, performances, and funding for student-run cultural events.
  • KVCU, the student-run radio station
  • SOFO, the Student Organizations Finance Office, which acts as a bank and information resource for student groups
  • UCSU proper, which is responsible for student government, budgeting student fees, funding groups and events, and representing students and their interests.

See the end of this document for information on the questionnaire and on data collection methods.


  • Familiarity and use
    • Respondents said they had used an average of 4 of the 12 services, with absolutely no differences by gender or grad/undergrad level. Roughly 20% had used 0-2 services, 60% 3-5, and 20% 6-10. No one reported using as many as 11 of the 12.
    • Some students may have used a service but answered "no" to both familiarity and use questions. Conversely, some students who said they had used a service may in fact not have done so. Data maintained by the services, especially IDs gathered with the Buff One card (starting fall '97), will always be a more accurate estimate of total use than survey results.
    • The listing of overall results for each service shows that use ranges from 15% or less (WRC, Legal, VCH, SOFO, UCSU) to between 80 and 90% for the UMC and Rec Center
    • Average importance and excellence ratings are listed in the display but are more easily interpreted by examining the percentage giving each response (next section)
    • There are virtually no differences in any results by gender or by grad/undergrad level.
  • Importance and excellence ratings
    • Only users were asked to rate service excellence. They are generally quite satisfied. Of all 1,006 ratings made, of all services combined, 1/3 were "excellent," 1/2 "good," 13% "fair," and only 3% "poor."
    • The listing of excellence results for each service shows that
      • No service received "poor" ratings from 10% or more of users
      • Percentage "excellent" varies considerably, from 10-20% (UCSU, SOFO, Off-campus, and UMC) to over 60% (Rec Center, WRC)--these two stand far above the others, but the WRC rating is based on only 13 users
    • Everyone was asked to rate the importance of having a similar service on campus. The listing of importance results for each service shows that
      • Each service except KUCB radio was rated as at least "somewhat important" by 90% or more of respondents
      • Each service was rated as "very important" by at least 38% of respondents, but this figure ranges from 40-50% (KUCB, SOFO) to over 80% (Wardenburg, Rec Center)
      • Users rated importance higher than non-users for all services.
  • Relationships among the measures
    • These are shown in plots of
      • Average excellence rating vs. service use
      • Average importance rating vs. service use
      • Average importance vs. excellence ratings
    • Over the 12 services, use and importance are positively related--the higher the use, the higher the importance. Familiarity is similary related. In contrast, excellence ratings are not related to either use or importance.
  • Reasons for non-use
    • Non-users who said they had "a pretty good idea" about a service were asked why they hadn't used it. Interviewers placed the answers into one of a list of categories, and recorded verbatim answers that did not fit in the categories. Respondents could give up to 3 reasons, but very few gave more than one.
    • The two most common reasons for not using each service are
      • No need, no interest
      • Not familiar with the service (this reason is assumed; respondents who said they were not familiar with the service were not asked their reasons for non-use)
    • The only other reasons appearing with any frequency are
      • "Use an alternative service," for Wardenburg, KUCB, and Off-campus Housing (where 'alternative' includes 'do it myself')
      • "No time," for CEB, UCSU
      • Not knowing station frequency, for KUCB

Questionnaire. The questionnaire was developed jointly by UCSU and SARS. It features a nearly-identical set of 5 question types for each of the 12 cost centers ("SRV" stands for the name of the particular service; e.g., the UMC [student union]):

  • Familiarity with the service: "Do you have a pretty good idea about SRV's services?"
  • Use of the service: "Have you used SRV or its services?"
    • Users: excellence rating: "Overall, how would you rate SRV? Would you say its services are excellent, good, fair, or poor?"
    • Non-users: reasons for non-use (unless had no familiarity; in that case we assumed that was the reason for non-use): "Why haven't you used SRV?"
  • Importance of the service: "How important is it that services like SRV's be available on campus? Would you say it's very important, somewhat important, or not important?"

Data collection

  • Population: Students enrolled spring 1997, including both undergraduates and graduate levels
  • Sample: A random sample of 481, stratified on grad/undergrad, gender, college, and class level
  • Interviews were conducted by Quantum Research of Boulder between April 1st and April 13th, 1997. Interviewers made up to 5 calls per sample member. Final outcomes:
    • 52%, or 250, were interviewed.
    • 13% bad phone numbers
    • 32% never answered
    • 3% refused to be interviewed
  • The interviews were conducted using a computerized version of the questionnaire which rigidly enforced all skip patterns and minimized missing data.
  • The 250 respondents are 47% female and 22% graduate level
  • Respondents and those not reached do not differ in gender, grad/undergrad level, or attempted hours. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that the results adequately represent the opinions of all CU-Boulder students.


Last revision 05/02/16

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