Results of Campus Climate Survey reveal student comfort levels

On May 8, the Diversity Action Team hosted its final Lunch and Learn for the semester.

The meeting was held to discuss the results of the Campus Climate Survey,  which was given to faculty, staff and students via email.

The purpose of the survey is to indicate how safe the student population feels. The survey is completely anonymous and the results help administrators devise a plan for the future. This is the second time the survey has been made available to students.

The Diversity Action Team is composed of 14 members from the MC faculty and staff.

The group’s main goal is to increase diversity  among students and  employees on campus and to provide better diversity awareness opportunities.

This plan was set in motion by the “Renewing our Strength” initiative, implemented in fall of 2012. As a part of this intuitive, faculty and staff are reaching out to determine the steps that need to be taken in order to have a better environment on campus.

The Campus Climate Survey was designed to give feedback on how the MC faculty and students feel about various aspects of campus life.

The questionnaire, provided by Survey Monkey, included questions that measured how comfortable students and faculty felt that they could express their identity on campus, how safe students feel on campus and how diverse the population is.

The questionnaire also asked how specific questions pertaining to how the student or staff identify themselves in order to determine if any groups on campus feel less secure than others. The survey did not included questions that explicitly asked how a student felt as a part of a bigger group.

“We asked people to respond as individuals for the survey,” said Andy Lewter, associate dean of students.

After the data was collected, it was broken up into different groups that identified as white, non-white, LGBT, straight, Christian and non-Christian.

The results showed that the various groups felt similar levels, around 4.49 out of 5, of comfort on the MC campus. These results will be helpful for improving the Strategic Plan goals.

Since 15-20 people did not respond to the demographic question, it was hard to get a true understanding of how various groups feel, but those examining the responses feel that it is a good start.

“We’ve tinkered with it a lot in the last two years, and we tried hard to make sure that we created questions that would create the best results,” said Vandy Kemp, vice president and dean of students.

The first survey was given in 2011. The survey will continue to be given  bi-annually. From the 2011 survey, participation has increased by 34 people, giving a total of 279 students and faculty who completed the survey.

“This by no means is a perfect instrument for trying to collect the information that we are trying to obtain,” Lewter said. “This is a complicated endeavor, but we tried to track information that was important to the college.

The main emphasis for the survey to “assess the climate of respect for diverse groups on campus better,” Kemp said.

For the next survey, the Diversity Action Team will work on asking questions that will better define information necessary for the improvement of diversity on campus.

“For the future, we want students to understand the importance of this survey better and hopefully we will receive more participation in 2015,” Lewter said.

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