Survey: Most satisfied with campus climate
The majority of students, faculty and staff at Washington State University feel positive about the campus climate. WSU administrators have drawn this conclusion from the results of a comprehensive survey that the president’s office initiated last spring.
Nearly 75 percent of the student respondents say the climate is positive. “Students do in fact value diversity and feel it has great impact on their lives,” says Tom Brigham, assistant to the president and professor of psychology.
Although previous efforts have been made to assess WSU’s climate, President V. Lane Rawlins intends this one to serve as a baseline for future surveys. “It is important for us to ask these same questions on a continual basis so we can track our successes and address areas that pose the greatest challenges,” Rawlins says.
A total of 1,328 students and 2,500 faculty and staff completed the online survey administered by WSU’s Social and Economic Sciences Research Center.
The results are consistent across the WSU system. The majority of students and employees at the Tri-Cities, Spokane and Vancouver campuses agree with their Pullman counterparts that their campus climate is as good as or somewhat better than other places they have worked or studied.
There were no significant differences between white students and students of color when they were asked how good a job WSU is doing in promoting and supporting diversity. About 55 percent gave WSU either an “A” or “B” grade, while 12 percent think a “D” or “F” grade is more appropriate.
Middle Eastern Student Association member Layla Yousify believes the results do not give the entire story for how multicultural students feel at WSU. “I experience discrimination on almost a daily basis whether it is intended as a joke or a serious threat. Many of us do not feel we can be ourselves. We just don’t feel comfortable here.”
Yousify says one significant step the university can take to support diversity is to hire a more diverse faculty and staff.
Just over half the faculty who responded to the survey agree that WSU is doing an excellent or fair job of promoting and supporting diversity. African American respondents were most critical, with more than 41 percent saying WSU is making a poor or failing effort. Interestingly, 40 percent of African Americans also indicated that the climate at WSU is somewhat better or much better than other places.
Interim Vice President for Equity and Diversity Michael J. Tate believes this information provides encouragement for the university to step up its efforts to diversify. “Our goal is to make WSU a destination university for all faculty, staff and students. We need to work harder to identify qualified candidates from underrepresented groups and convince them that this is the place they need to be,” Tate said.
While the survey results paint a fairly positive picture overall for the campus, WSU administrators acknowledge there is room for improvement. The majority of the gay, lesbian and bisexual students who responded feel that anti-gay prejudice is more prevalent at WSU than at other places. About 12 percent of them say they have experienced discrimination quite often or very often. This compares with eight percent for multicultural students.
While three-fourths of the GLBA respondents think the university is doing a fair job or better at promoting and supporting diversity, almost one-quarter of them think WSU is somewhat worse or much worse than other places they have lived, worked or studied.
The public is invited to review the survey results. The 35-page executive summary can be accessed at http://www.wsu.edu/president/documents/ExecSum10-14-04.doc. .