Campus Climate survey shows strong response

By Devyn Giannetti

Erica Lowenkron/Collegian
(Erica Lowenkron/Collegian)

With the close of the Campus Climate survey on Dec. 4, the results are now being analyzed by the University of Massachusetts to figure out ways in which the campus can be a safer, more inclusive environment.

According to Enobong (Anna) Branch, an associate professor of sociology and the chancellor’s faculty advisor for diversity and excellence, a total of 41.4 percent of students, faculty and staff members completed the survey between Nov. 14 and its closing on Sunday.

The average rate of response for campus climate surveys is around 29 percent, said Branch.

With about 8,327 student responses (38.4 percent of the UMass student population), The Office of Academic Planning and Assessment will analyze the survey data, including the responses to open-ended questions, with a final report which will be released sometime in 2017.

“The results are going to help us tighten our goals for the Diversity Strategic Plan, which the survey is just one part of,” said Branch.

In anticipation of the release of the Diversity Strategic Plan, the Office of Academic Planning and Assessment will release “snapshots” of some of data results found in the survey, most likely sent out in email form.

“We want to see where we are as a campus,” said Branch. “From town halls and other meetings we had a good sense and were able to hear from the campus much more broadly, but now we can move forward in a data-driven way.”

Some goals of the plan include diversifying the learning environment and interacting more with alumni.

The survey was created by the Campus Climate Survey Committee, co-chaired by Martha Stassen, the assistant provost of assessment and educational effectiveness, and Liz Williams, the director of survey and evaluation research.

The Student Government Association was closely involved with the creation of the survey and sat in on meetings to plan the release of the survey.

“We helped with the advertisement of the campaign and participated in the meetings with administration to find out what gets students to participate in the survey,” said Derek Dunlea, secretary of finance for the SGA and junior political science and economics major.

The SGA will also meet with administration to discuss the results of the survey as they are finalized.

Encouragement to complete the survey was all over campus, with student ambassadors promoting the survey around campus, students allowed to cut the line at late nights at Berkshire Dinning Commons, and cookie stations throughout campus with the Campus Climate survey logo.

“I filled out the survey to get the free t-shirt at Berk,” said John Bonderak, junior journalism major. “I feel like the campus climate has gotten better, especially because we don’t see any of these racist and anti-Semitic acts this year. The administration has definitely been pushing for campus equality.”

The last time the University conducted a Campus Climate survey to this degree was in 2001.

Dunlea wants to assure students that just because the survey is over, doesn’t mean that students will never hear from the administration.

“This isn’t a wasted effort; the work put into it will make UMass better,” he said. “We will see both the good and the bad.”

Branch said that students should also keep checking their email over the next few weeks to see if they won one of the many prizes being given out as incentive for completing the survey, some of which include a bicycle from Coca-Cola, Campus Dining cards, tickets to performances at the Mullins Center and Amazon gift cards.

Branch says the final report in its entirety is expected to be available to the public next year.

“We want students and faculty to know that we hear you,” she said. “We are being accountable.”

Devyn Giannetti can be reached at [email protected].