The Collegian
Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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Campus climate survey aims to give insight on equity, inclusion efforts

<p>The sign denoting the Office of Common Ground stands out amongst a sea of purple paint.</p>

The sign denoting the Office of Common Ground stands out amongst a sea of purple paint.

The University of Richmond is administering a campus climate survey for all faculty, staff and students to inform administrators of the effectiveness of their equity and inclusion efforts and to better understand the student experience on campus.

The survey is being conducted via a partnership with the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, UR president Ronald Crutcher wrote in a Feb. 17 email, in which he also informed the community of the survey. 

Lisa Miles, associate director of the Office of Common Ground, said it was time to see whether UR was on the right track with its diversity and inclusion efforts. 

"If we are going to say that [diversity and inclusion] is a shared value of the institution, how well are we doing it?" Miles said. "It is one thing to say it is a shared value, and it is another thing to do it so well that everyone says, 'Yes, I feel that, I feel included, and I feel welcomed.' 

"If that is not happening, then we have to make some changes." 

Miles said the results from the last campus climate survey was one of the reasons why the Office of Common Ground was created. The last campus climate survey was administered approximately 15 years ago, she said. She is hopeful that UR will be transparent and look at the results from this year's survey as potential growth opportunities, Miles said.

All faculty, staff and students received an email from Crutcher on Feb. 1 with a personalized link to the “2021 Diverse Learning Environments” survey. Participation in the survey is voluntary but highly encouraged, according to the email. 

Questions in the survey touch on a wide range of subjects, including students' experiences with diversity, sexual assault, Greek life organizations and academics on campus. The survey is designed to include measures focusing on diversity, "including experiences with discrimination, cross-racial interactions, validation and sense of belonging," according to UCLA's website

But some students are skeptical about the survey results creating tangible change to the UR experience. 

Junior Eleazer Afotey, president of the Sankofa African Student Alliance at UR, said he felt the administration had not previously made changes to the campus climate based on student input. 

“In the past, when there were racial issues, the school called for town hall meetings," Afotey said. "But ask yourself: ‘what is the outcome of that? Have you seen any real change?' What is the administration doing to ensure that we are making progress? 

"There is not really evidence. I see that a lot of people are trying to put in the effort. But the more the effort proves futile, we lose hope more. I feel like people are taking steps but it looks like the steps are not creating results and it is getting frustrating and tiring for people to put in more work.” 

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Junior Zena Abro, a member of Shades of Pride, an affinity group for LGBTQ+ people of color on campus, echoed Afotey's concerns.

“I hope that the administration actually responds to students [in a way] that isn’t just in a formal email one time," she said. "That is what we always get, and it never does anything."

Abro said she hoped the survey would be a catalyst for meaningful, widespread conversation.

“I feel like the majority of the fight always comes from minority groups,” Abro said. “It would be nice for the whole student body to come together on something and have more of a consensus that we need to support our minority students more.” 

Contact news writer Ryan Hudgins at ryan.hudgins@richmond.edu.

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