Sociology class gains
Survey results show Baton
Rouge residents are well educated
By Angelle Delgado
National and regional groups often conduct surveys, but how do Baton
Rouge residents compare concerning social, economic and political
Last spring semester an undergraduate sociology class set out to find
When the idea of the class was to learn how to conduct a survey,
Frederick Weil, a sociology professor, felt that a textbook was not the
best place to gain knowledge.
"I'm not a big fan of textbook learning," Weil said
Instead, Weil suggested the class conduct its own survey of Baton
Rouge residents that could be compared to other national and regional
surveys, giving them the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in
"It was a little overwhelming at first," said Stephanie Frank, a
sociology senior. But, the class worked on putting the survey together
step-by-step, Frank said.
Students worked on the Internet and searched various Web sites to
find questions to develop the survey, Frank said.
After choosing four topics: crime, gender, race and trust in public
institutions, students narrowed the survey down to 30 questions, many of
which were from national and regional surveys, Weil said.
The students then interviewed 360 Baton Rouge residents, ages 18 and
older, by phone to gain a better view of the city in 2000.
The survey showed that Baton Rouge residents are younger and better
educated than average polled cities
Weil said he could attribute this to the fact that Baton Rouge is a
college town, but the results surprised him.
Baton Rouge was shown to be more pro-choice than average Southern
cities, but the majority of residents see abortion as wrong.
Results also showed that residents have more confidence in organized
religion compared to national ratings.
On household issues, Baton Rouge indicates a lower percentage of
divorce compared to both national and regional surveys.
Baton Rouge's view of gender issues proves to be typical of the
South, being that the South is more conservative than other parts of the
nation, Weil said.
Baton Rouge appears to be "more modern than expected," which Weil
said was surprising.
Compared to national surveys, Baton Rouge residents feel more
threatened by crime than five years ago. The survey also showed that a
high percentage of the population is more concerned with crime.
A high percentage of residents believe racism has stayed the same
within the last few years, according to the survey.
However, Louis D'Eila, a sociology junior, said a vast majority of
the African- American population he surveyed felt racism increased
during the last five years.
Overall, Weil said the survey showed that Baton Rouge seems to be "an
interesting combination" of typical southern qualities and more modern
The results intrigued students, who seemed to gain a lot from
preparing the survey themselves, Weil said
"I learned a lot about surveys and how they are done," D'Eila said.
Students started getting excited about the assignment when they
realized the results could be useful to future surveys and give Baton
Rouge the opportunity to be compared to those surveys, Weil said.
"I was pleased with the response we got," Frank said.
Conducting the survey and learning the methods needed to do so are
lessons Frank said she expects to use as good experience for graduate
Weil said he plans on including a survey
assignment in his future sociological method classes and possibly
updating the survey every year.