UC system to conduct nation’s largest campus climate survey

Courtesy of Forward.com

From October 2012 to February 2013, the UC system will partake in a climate survey that is aimed at assessing the level of tolerance and respect for campus diversity. Students, faculty and staff will all participate in what is “believed to be the largest survey of its kind ever conducted,” according to Harry Mok, principal editor in the UC Office of the President’s Integrated Communications group.

The UC has been making plans for the assessment since 2010, after President Mark Yudof named an Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion. As a developing partnership throughout many UC campuses, the council consisted of members ranging from the NAACP to the National Center of Lesbian Rights, along with the inclusion of campus figures and student representatives from each respective campus. With the exception of students, each member agreed to serve for three years until 2013.

The survey aims to capture the campus life experience beyond undergraduate and graduate students, as well as the living and working conditions on campus. The plans to conduct a campus-wide survey were first announced in the UC Annual Accountability Sub-Report on Diversity of 2010. As part of a 2007 diversity policy goal, President Yudof submits a yearly report to the UC Regents on campus climate.

“In July 2011, President Yudof announced that UC will conduct a system-wide study to gather data related to institutional climate, inclusion and work-life issues across UC’s ten campuses and the Office of the President. Based on the study’s findings, UC will develop strategic initiatives and action plans to address institutional climate challenges and promote institutional change throughout the UC system,” stated the January 2012 Sub-Report on Diversity. The UC system was the first of its kind in the country to undergo such a comprehensive evaluation, which sought to improve the ambiance within each campus.

Campus climate has become an emerging issue over the past few years. Co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative, Tammi Rossman Benjamin recently sent a letter to the Advisory Council to create awareness towards the insurmountable cases of intolerance and bigotry that Jewish students have often experienced. The AMCHA or “Your People” Initiative, is dedicated to protecting the rights of Jewish college students and has voiced concerns about the need for greater cultural and religious acceptance on UC campuses. Throughout the years, the UC system experienced graffiti of swastikas, disruption of Jewish student-sponsored events, along with verbal and physical aggression towards Semitic beliefs.

UCR has typically and statistically exhibited a deep sense of tolerance and diversity when compared to any other UC campus. Prior to the survey on campus climate, the UC Undergraduate Experience Survey was the most comprehensive diversity report and is still conducted on a biennial basis. Based on the 2008 and 2010 Experience data, UCR had some of the most exceptional scores in regards to how individuals felt about their overall treatment on each respective campuses.

The findings revealed that most undergraduates generally felt their ethnic background and race were respected at all 10 UC campuses. African Americans, however, reported that their level of respect was the lower on a system-wide scale, while UCR had the best score among African Americans in the UC system. UCR has also been known for admitting larger proportions of low-income and working-class students compared to the other UC campuses.

The first location scheduled for assessment will be located at the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Berkeley on Oct. 29. It has yet to be determined when UCR will undergo the assessment, but the results for the entire survey is scheduled for released in the spring of 2013.

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