Orange Alert

Takeaways from the Campus Climate Survey

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Posted on: April 13, 2021

Six Lessons Learned from the Pulse Climate Survey

After reviewing the campus climate survey (https://diversity.syr.edu/pulse-survey/) released a few weeks ago, I want to highlight six things that were confirmed (and what historically underrepresented students, staff, and faculty have already known):

  1. All surveyed categories of campus stakeholders—students, staff, and faculty—of African and/or LatinX descent reported the least positive experience in comparison to their overrepresented white counterparts, who reported the most positive experience. Student, faculty, and staff respondents of Asian descent show a similar pattern of discrimination. This finding reflects the national climate of intolerance and hate towards Asians and Asian Americans.
  2. Muslim respondents among faculty (41%) and staff (45%) reported the highest level of discrimination among all religious affiliation on campus among those stakeholders. Meanwhile, Jewish student respondents reported the highest level of discrimination experienced at nearly 26%. This is the highest reported level of all religious affiliations on campus among students.
  3. Forty-eight per cent of the student respondents indicated some form of financial instability (“cannot make ends meet”, “barely make end meet after accounting for expenses”, “breaking even after paying bills”). The percentage of staff respondents was only slightly lower at 45.6%.
  4. Faculty respondents who identify as women were 96% more likely to feel discriminated against than their male counterparts. They also reported higher rates of dissatisfaction (59%).
  5. Student and staff respondents who identified as part of the LGBTQIA community reported higher rates of discriminatory experiences than their heterosexual and cisgender colleagues at 57% and 75%, respectively.
  6. Student, staff, and faculty respondents who are members of the disability community on campus also reported more discriminatory experiences than able-bodied stakeholders, with staff 254% more likely to report these experiences.

The facts are alarming. As a campus, we have failed those in our communities who are marginalized by race, gender, class, ability, religious, and sexual orientation. We can only assume that those who occupy multiple marginalized identities experience even greater dissatisfaction as a result of their intersectionalities.

We must do better. We must create and expect a community of belonging where all – regardless of their social location – can feel valued and reach their full potential.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I want to refer you to our College’s diversity plan, established in 2018, and encourage you to sign up for status updates. In the meantime, you can look forward to future announcements and calls for the following initiatives planned for 2020, but postponed due to the pandemic. It is abundantly clear that we must re-prioritize them.

  • Call for nominations to the Arts & Sciences/Maxwell Diversity Council. This council was established as part of our Bylaws in 2020. It will comprise representatives from all stakeholder groups in the two colleges, including from Humanities, Sciences and Math, and Social Sciences with members from both undergraduate and graduate students, staff, and full- and part-time faculty.
  • Survey to established identity-based affinity groups of faculty within the College and greater support for existing groups for students and faculty.
  • Strengthening mentoring program for faculty.
  • Jumpstart conversation with the College’s department and unit leadership about a critical reexamination of their policies that differentially impacted marginalized groups and challenge sense of belonging.