Data from the 1,339 Willamette students and employees who participated in last semester’s campus climate survey have been returned from HEDS, the third-party company that wrote the survey. Vice President of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Jade Aguilar revealed the patterns found in the results during Convocation on Thursday Sept. 19. This presentation was tailored to an undergraduate audience.
The survey asked questions about community members’ “perceptions of their institution’s climate, perceptions of how their institution supports diversity and equity and experiences with discrimination and harassment at their institution,” as explained by HEDS’ website.
Aguilar started the presentation by encouraging questions and comments from the audience and introducing one of the main conclusions. “What came up loud and clear in the study results is that we don’t have enough opportunities for meaningful dialogue on this campus. And what I think I would like to see is this survey and sharing the results with you to be an opportunity for that.”
The demographic of undergraduate students that took the survey is a close match to the demographic of the whole student body. 34 percent of the CLA student body reports as not only white, and 35 percent of students who took the survey report as not only white. Aguilar noted it was important to look at these statistics to see if any group of students were overrepresented or underrepresented in the results of the survey, and these numbers reveal that the survey was taken by a representative portion of the student body.
There were sections for both multiple choice and short answer questions on the survey. For multiple questions on the survey, participants were asked to rate their satisfaction regarding a certain topic, with the choices being very satisfied, satisfied, neither satisfied or dissatisfied, dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. The results presented grouped the answers for very satisfied and satisfied into one number. The same treatment was given to unsatisfied and very unsatisfied answers.
58 percent of undergraduate students reported being satisfied with the overall campus climate, and 18 percent reported being dissatisfied. Graduate students, faculty and staff all reported 67- 69 percent satisfied and 13-15 percent dissatisfied.
When asked if people were satisfied with diversity on campus, undergraduates reported being significantly less satisfied than other groups, polling at 32 percent satisfied and 40 percent dissatisfied. Graduate students, faculty and staff all polled 54-61 percent satisfied and 18-25 percent dissatisfied.
The study revealed 693 reports of often witnessing “insensitive or disparaging remarks” against people “with a particular political affiliation/view.” The two other highest reports were for “people of a particular age or generation” with 242 reports and “who have a particular racial and/or ethnic identity,” with 201 reports.
32 percent of undergraduate students reported having been discriminated against or harassed on campus. For CLA students, graduate students and employees, the top two reasons for being harassed or discriminated against were because of racial and/or ethnic identity and gender identity. Women who took the survey reported 606 incidents of discrimination and harassment, and men reported 211. There was no statistic for nonbinary people. In total, there were 933 reported incidents.
The survey also provided qualitative data through comment sections. 89 percent of participants left at least one comment. In order to read each comment, Aguilar reported that teams of students, staff and faculty read over them and identified trends, and then met together to discuss and report findings.
“Any one person is going to bring their own filter, their own bias to it. Different things emerge for different people… having groups of folks who come from different parts of campus really allows us to say these were really themes that we saw emerging,” said Aguilar about the comment reading practice.
From this data, it became clear that people across campus felt content with their chosen, smaller groups, but lacked a feeling of overall community at the University. Many people suggested more community events to remedy that disconnect.
At the end of her presentation, Aguilar opened the floor to questions and comments. She also encouraged anyone who has ideas on how to improve campus climate to come and talk to her about them.
“I am hoping the conversation doesn’t end here, that you continue to have these conversations within your student groups, within your residence halls, wherever you can find the time to talk about it,” said Aguilar.