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Published:January 15th, 2007 05:57 EST
Elite Survey not so Elite

Elite Survey not so Elite

By Brandon Jennings

After three years running, the West Virginia University Student Government Association`s Elite Landlord Survey has gone through some changes, but it still isn`t scientific enough for some. This was the first year that the survey was put through a statistical program, " said Whitney Rae Peters, SGA Governor at WVU. The SGA enlisted the help of Venkatesh Srinivasan to create a more scientific way of rating the different landlords included in the survey. However, the survey still has a disclaimer stating that it is not scientific.

I feel grateful for being number one, " said Chris Ilardi, manager of Pine View apartments, but he had never heard of the survey. It was purported by the SGA that landlords were using the survey as a tool for marketing, but that`s not the case at Pine View.

There probably are some who do, " Ilardi said, but he was quick to say that even if he had known about the survey, he wouldn`t have tried to do anything different. What good would those results be then? " Whether the landlords changed what they did to do better on the survey or not, it still wouldn`t make it any more valid.

I would not base my opinion on a survey like this, " said Sarah Sedgman Quesen, Statistics professor at WVU, self-selected surveys appeal to people with very strong or negative feelings about the topic (being surveyed). "

And because of this, the results that were reached by the SGA are far from conclusive. There were over 1100 responses to the survey. Each renter who received at least five responses was treated as an equal.

This poses a large problem when comparing real results. If one renter scores a 35 from 5 surveyors, and another scores a 34 from 100 surveyors, it is likely that the chance for the data to be skewed in favor of the renter with fewer responses. Most of the landlords in the top 10 had less than 10 surveys returned from over 1100 responses, which led me to believe that negative responses outnumbered the positive, " Quesen said.

Pine view came in first place, but there were only nine students who completed the survey, and the Gene-Perilli apartments came in seventh after being reported on by 37 tenants. The most startling fact about this is how close the actual score is. Pine view received a 33.78, while Gene-Perrili scored a 31.07. The reason for this is the equal weighting of all renters after five reports.

The sample for this survey does not represent the opinions of off-campus students in Morgantown, " said Quesen. Any volunteer survey measures only the opinions of people who are motivated to take the time to respond. " This was a sentiment also held by Ilardi who felt that he had no need to advertise the survey to tenants. If they felt it was important, they would have looked at it already, " he said.

The SGA is continuing to look into ways for expanding and improving the survey and both of those things may go hand in hand. The best way to conduct this survey would be to send a survey to a random sample taken from a list of all students in off-campus housing, and then follow up with non-responders to get as close to 100% of the sample responding as possible, " said Quesen.

Her best bet was that a survey, which would require that kind of time, effort and money, would be beyond the scope of what the SGA is capable of. As of right now, only WVU students can participate in the survey because it is provided to students through the Mountaineer Information Express. However, this is only the third year of the survey and allowing all Morgantown tenants to participate is something we are trying to have in the future, " Peters said.