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COMBO IV sees delays, expects to publish in April

After significant delays, the USG project team working on the Committee on Background and Opportunity IV report is set to publish its findings by early April, USG president Shawon Jackson ’15 said. The report will, for the first time, include policy recommendations with a more comprehensive analysis of the data.

U-Councilor and COMBO IV project leader Jameil Brown ’16 explained that the timeline for this project was set back significantly during the fall semester. Brown became the project leader in January.

“When I took over, I had a hard deadline,” Brown said. “First semester wasn’t under the same pressure.”

Brown explained that because the report must be presented at the Council of the Princeton University Community’s meeting in May, he and his team feel pressured to publish their results by April 1st.

The publication of survey results, although originally scheduled for the beginning of this school year, was first postponed to before winter break and, Brown noted, is now delayed by the data analysis process, The data analysis was originally scheduled to be competed by fall break.

“We asked a lot of different questions on this survey and surveyed a large group of students,” Jackson said. “I’m glad we’re being meticulous about how we write the report.”

The survey was originally scheduled to go out in May 2013, but was pushed back to July due to the high concentration of surveys being sent out at that time of the year, Jackson said. He said he attributed part of the delays to the decision to push back the initial release of the survey.

Brown said that the COMBO IV report will be comprehensive and go one step further with data analysis. After using the free statistical consulting services provided by the Social Science Reference Center in Firestone Library for previous surveys, USG members agreed that they wanted more thorough analysis and decided to hire student data analysts.

Consequently, Amy Sun ’14, Eric Guo ’14 and David Zhao ’16 have been working on data analysis and are scheduled to present the results of their study to Brown on Friday. Brown said that he and his project team will sift through the results after meeting with analysts and draft policy recommendations over spring break.

The results of the COMBO III project, which also experienced significant delays, indicated a nearly even split between religious and nonreligious students, a disproportionate representation of students from wealthier backgrounds, and over a third of the student body who reported developing mental health issues after coming to the University.

Brown noted that critics have stated that the report effectively pointed out problem areas associated with the student experience for kids coming from different backgrounds but did not publish any suggested solutions.

This time around, “we want to make solutions, not just present problems,” Brown said.

Jackson and Brown both explained that the ultimate goal of the project is to make the experience of being a student at the University better for everyone regardless of their background and opportunity.

Brown said he and his team will also be publicizing and circulating the survey results and policy recommendations to students, faculty members, administrators, staff and others who might find the results interesting or relevant.

“We’re making sure we hit all the different groups, potential stakeholders and people who might have a vested interest in this,” Brown said.

Correction: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this article did not accurately state the timeline of events describing the delays surrounding the COMBO IV survey. The USG planned to complete the data analysis by fall break and release its report by winter break. The ‘Prince’ regrets the error. Clarification: This article has been updated to include the USG’s decision to push back the initial release of the COMBO IV survey from May to July 2013. 

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