Friday, September 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

UCD says it won’t rest on positive climate survey

By
From page A1 | March 20, 2014 |

There are some big, pleasing numbers for UC Davis in the results of a survey on campus climate — but it’s some of the smaller, worrisome figures on which its leaders plan to get to work.

The survey, released on Wednesday, found that:

* 80 percent of campus community members were “comfortable” or “very comfortable” with the climate for diversity on campus, while 77 percent felt similarly about their academic unit or work setting;

* 89 percent of faculty, 82 percent of graduate students and 76 percent of graduates said they were “comfortable” or “very comfortable” in class;

* 80 percent of graduate students and 68 percent of undergraduates were satisfied with their academic experience.

At the same time, however, 24 percent of respondents reported that they had personally experienced “exclusionary, intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct” in the past year — and 8 percent said that conduct interfered with their ability to work or learn.

“That 8 percent is a number that we would want to really look into,” said Rahim Reed, associate executive vice chancellor for campus community relations. “If you’re experiencing conduct that’s making it difficult to work or do your job here — that’s just not acceptable.”

A total of 18,466 UCD students, staff and faculty completed 107-question online surveys, a 32 percent response rate, between January and March of 2013.

The survey found that more than half of those who took the survey thought the campus climate was respectful of all racial groups.

Respondents said the campus was respectful or very respectful particularly toward white (93 percent) and Asian people (86 percent). About 6 percent indicated that campus was disrespectful or very disrespectful toward black people, 5 percent toward Hispanic people.

On the question of exclusionary behavior: 40 percent of respondents who identified as transgender or genderqueer (defined as in between genders, neither gender or some combination) said they’d been shunned or bullied, compared to 27 percent for women and 18 percent for men.

Thirty-one percent of black, Hispanic or Native American students said they’d experienced such behavior, compared to 23 percent for whites, 19 percent for people of Asian, Middle-Eastern or Pacific Island descent, and  27 percent of those who indicated that their heritage included more than one minority group.

Thirty percent of staff members said they faced exclusionary behavior — compared to 22 percent for faculty and 18 percent for students. Among the affected staff members, 63 percent said the cause was their position status.

Of the 4,371 respondents who said they’d faced exclusionary behavior, 13 percent said it was often/very often based on ethnicity, 11 percent on educational level, 10 percent on age and 10 percent on area of study.

Twenty-two percent of all respondents said they’d witnessed exclusionary behavior — most commonly derogatory remarks. That treatment was most often based on position (19 percent), race or ethnicity (14 percent), political views (12 percent) or gender identity (11 percent).

The report also found that 443 respondents said that within the past five years they had experienced unwanted sexual conduct. Of them, 345 were women and 248 were undergraduate students.

The consulting firm hired to conduct the survey, Pennsylvania-based Rankin and Associates, noted in its report that responses at UCD were consistent with those it has found at client campuses across the country — including 70 to 80 percent of respondents being comfortable or very comfortable with their campus climates and 20 to 25 percent saying they’d faced exclusionary behavior.

At the UC system level, 79 percent of those surveyed were comfortable with their campus climate and 24 percent said they’d faced negative behavior.

The systemwide effort to analyze and improve campus climate began in 2010, after a series of hate-related incidents on UC campuses. In Davis that year, the LGBT Center was vandalized and swastikas were found spray-painted on campus.

In response, UCD launched its “Hate-Free Campus Initiative,” a series of educational programs, training efforts and other activities.

In a news release accompanying the new report’s release, Chancellor Linda Katehi said that the results “make it clear that UC Davis is an institution that values and promotes civility and mutual respect. But the reality is that even one incident of bias or discrimination, or one member of our community feeling unwelcomed is too many.”

UCD has posted its full 301-page survey report — part of a systemwide examination of climate on UC campuses — on the Office of Campus Community Relations website, http://occr.ucdavis.edu.

UCD will host the first in a series of forums to gather feedback on the report from noon to 1:30 p.m. on April 3 in Memorial Union II.

Reed co-chairs the Local Campus Climate Working Group, which helped assemble and promote the survey and is now a standing committee. It includes about 15 members, including student representatives, but may be expanded, he said.

Its goal will be to prioritize a list of concerns by late fall and begin implementing an action plan to address concerns during the 2014-15 winter quarter. At the end of 2015, the effectiveness of those efforts will be assessed.

“Is it realistic with an organization this large that we’d have 100 percent saying they’re happy and comfortable? Probably not,” Reed said. “But we’re still going to be striving to get as close to that as we can.”

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Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
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