Reactions to the Campus Climate Survey: Policy

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Transcript Reactions to the Campus Climate Survey: Policy

Reactions to the Campus Climate Survey:
Policy Considerations for Multicultural Students at Sewanee
Shameka Jennings, Emily Nicholson, Miriam Pate
Supervised by C. Albert Bardi, Ph.D.
This study sought to explore and assess multicultural students’ academic, social and
personal experiences at the University of the South. The researchers conducted individual
interviews with a standardized set of questions. Participants were briefed with the results of a
recent campus climate survey and interviewed about related issues such as witnessing and/or
experiencing racial discrimination or harassment, academic expectations, social expectations,
overall content level with their college experience, and what changes they would like to see
implemented. Participants in the study were multicultural students ranging from freshmen to
seniors at the University of the South. Tentative yet recurring themes included the conflict
between a highly positive academic experience and an unsatisfactory social life, issues of
academic and social opportunities and support for diverse students on campus compared to the
mainstream and dominant culture, experiences of insensitivity in and outside of the classroom,
lack of diversity in faculty and staff, and concerns regarding retention of multicultural students
over four years of education. Using the thematic data collected, suggestion for policy changes
and implementation are offered.
College is designed as a period of transition to the real world, which is full of individuals with
different ideas and identities. This time should be utilized to prepare students to the differences
they may face in the world. Because of this, it is important for all students to be exposed to
diversity. Diversity is defined as a “variety” or having an “unlikeness.” Simply put, diversity is
being unique, being an individual. Diversity on campus is important not only because it
exposes individuals to people who are racially, ethnically, geographically, philosophically
different from who they are, but also allows everyone to grow and develop into a more wellrounded, knowledgeable, open person.
Through the courses we have taken in Psychology, stories we have heard, and our personal
experiences, we decided to create an independent study that focused on the multicultural
perspective on Sewanee: The University of the South. We hope to find common themes, positive
and negative, of the multicultural collegiate experience. We intend to report to the university
our findings and accompany them with recommendations to create a better environment for
multicultural students.
Annotated Bibliographies
McHatton. A., Keller, H., Shircliffe, B., & Zalaquett,C. (2009).Examining Efforts to Infuse Diversity Within One
College of Education. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, Vol 2(3), Sep, 2009. pp. 127-135.
This study discusses the need to teach and prepare teachers and professors about diversity and cultural
responsiveness in and outside of the classroom. This study also suggests infusing such issues into classroom
curriculum. This study supports many of the challenges of professors at Sewanee have expressed. This would be
very helpful in developing some type of training or instruction on diversity and how to respond. This will be very
beneficial to an institution like ours where the faculty and staff are mainly homogenous.
Pascarella, E. T., Edison, M., Nora, A., Hagedorn, L. S., & Terenzini P. T. (1996). Influences on Students' Openness
to Diversity and Challenge in the First Year of College. Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 67.
This study suggests that the college experience has a vital impact awareness and openness to diversity for many
college students. The three main factors that contribute to this change are the emphasis the institution places on
diversity, student engagement with diverse faculty and student engagement with diverse students. The results from
this study showed that institutions who were high in all three variables graduated more open and salient students
Our institution is lacking all of these. This study would support our independent study because it stresses the
importance of having diverse faculty as well as having institutional support for more diversity on campus. This
study would be very useful in developing policy in regards to faculty hiring and recruitment and goals for the
Pepper, M. B., Tredennick, L., Reyes, R. F.(2010). Transparency and trust as antecedents to perceptions of
commitment to stated diversity goals. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, Vol 3(3), Sep, 2010. pp. 153-162.
This study discusses commitment to diversity goals and policies different institutions claim to support but do not
necessarily implement. Furthermore this study talks about how the effects of when an institution is/ is not visibly
committed to diversity. Some of the effects of being seen as not committed include: lower grades for African
Americans, increase feeling of isolation among different groups of students and discrimination and hostility
amongst students. This study suggests that an institution needs trust and cultural transparency in order to be
perceived as having a commitment to diversity. This study would support our independent study because it gives
us a basis for establishing our diversity policy. It also suggests that we “promote” diversity in tangible ways to
increase awareness of diversity on campus.
Cook, R. (2008). Embracing diversity at Allegheny College: Signs of success at a residential college of the liberal
arts and sciences. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 1(1), 1-7.
This article follows Allegheny College as they try to answer the question, “Why should minority students and
faculty choose Allegheny College?” The article discusses the strategic plan developed by Allegheny to make them
more attractive to diverse students and employees. Initiatives include: Establishing a diversity scholarship;
Providing additional resources to director of diversity affairs to participate in policy-making and programming;
Offer pilot diversity awareness program; create faculty positions devoted to diversification of curriculum;
increasing number of alumni of color and women on school Board of Trustees; Diversity Dialogues. Since
Allegheny is a small, liberal arts school like Sewanee, I believe that the initiatives taken are some that we should
share with administration in addition to the data we find in-house.
Gottfredson, N., Panter, A., Daye, C., Allen, W., Wightman, L., & Deo, M. (2008). Does diversity at undergraduate
institutions influence student outcomes?. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 1(2), 80-94
This study presents data that shows that there is a relationship between diversity and student outcomes in a
higher educational institution. The data supports that having individuals of diverse backgrounds in a setting
interact with one another have a positive effect on student life as well as having the individual take a course on
human diversity. This study can be utilized because it supports our theory of providing more diverse opportunities
on campus so that students and faculty have time to engage in conversation with and learn from one another.
The following are Key Themes found among interviews
 A total of ten multicultural students attending Sewanee: The University of the South have been
interviewed thus far (the study is still being conducted). The participants ranged from freshmen
to seniors. The ages ranged from 18-22 years old. Participants were volunteers.
 2009 Campus Climate Survey Results
 Excerpt:
Highest Rated Topics of Student Life
1. Faculty Accessibility
6. Extracurricular
2. Overall course quality
3. Library
7. Computer Resources
4. Campus Safety
8. Amount of contact with
5. Faculty Advisors
Faculty Members
Lowest Rated Topics of Student Life
1.Ethnic/Racial Diversity
5. Food Service
2. Climate for Minority Students
6.Variety of Social
3. Ability to Enroll in Desired Courses
4.Student Behavior in Dorms
Inside the Classroom
Experienced Racial Insensitivity, 47.6%
Witnessed Racial Insensitivity, 60.3%
Experienced Racial Harassment, 11.1%%
Witnessed Racial Harassment, 12.7%
Experienced Racial Discrimination, 23.8%
Witnessed Racial Discrimination, 28.6%
Outside the Classroom
Experienced Racial Insensitivity, 65.1%
Witnessed Racial Insensitivity, 76.2%
Experienced Racial Harassment, 30.2%%
Witnessed Racial Harassment, 32.3%
Experienced Racial Discrimination, 42.9%
Witnessed Racial Discrimination, 58.7%
Conclusion: Significant negative correlations indicate that higher levels of racial
harassment, insensitivity and discrimination were associated with lower levels of
Sewanee satisfaction.
 Tape Recorder
 List of interview questions designed to assess issues such as:
 Witnessing and/or experiencing racial discrimination or harassment
 Academic expectations and social expectations,
 Their overall happiness/ satisfaction with their experience at Sewanee
 What changes they would like to see implemented
 Each researcher approached a multicultural student and contacted the student and informed him/
her about the course study and its goals. Students then choose to participant voluntarily.
 In a private location, the researcher informed the participant of the procedure for the interview:
the researcher would strictly ask questions and would not comment during their interview.
 The participants were given the campus climate survey results and asked to review them.
 After the participants felt as though they completely understood the campus climate survey
results, the researchers began the interview.
 After interview was over, the participant was thanked and debriefed about the study.
 All interviews were transcribed by the researchers.
 Researchers reviewed the transcripts, and via consensus, documented recurring themes.
The conflict between a highly positive academic experience and an unsatisfactory
social life.
Islands of comfort in diversity (e.g. lunch table) are too few and far between.
Opportunities for experiences with diverse student groups are left up to student
organizations, which vary too greatly.
The high importance of alternative social life (non-alcohol focused) for minority
Direct experiences of ethnic/cultural insensitivity.
Being asked to speak for one’s race/ethnicity in the classroom.
The vicarious experience of insensitivity (hearing about others' experiences of
insensitivty via social interaction).
The experience of deception concerning diversity via admissions media and events-led to believe Sewanee is more diverse than is actually experienced.
Experience that minority culture (music, dance) is not valued in mainstream
venues such as recitals, social gatherings.
The concern about lack of diversity in administration.
The concern about lack of diversity in faculty.
The high impact of losses of minority students on the morale of the minority
community (even though minorities may persist at higher percentages than
Below are excerpts from the interviews conducted portraying the mentioned themes:
“Academically, I believe Sewanee does what it can. I have to be a certain level of preparedness
for myself so I can’t blame them. And I do feel that they are easily accessible, most of
the professors…I know it seems to go back to social life but that honestly will make a
well-rounded, very happy and well adjusted person and that’s one of the components
that sticks out to me when I reflect on my college experience and that’s something that’s
lacking here. And that’s something that if I had to do it again I really sometimes would
question. And if it had not been for the friendships that I’ve made, I would not be
committed to Sewanee at all. The education is one thing but I believe that I can get a
good education some place and still be provided with the social life that I deserve and
have desired.”
“I guess I cannot say Sewanee campus is diverse in the sense of the buildings and what
surrounds it. It’s pretty restraining. I guess, I don’t know how to say this but, I guess the
cultural things you can do at Sewanee are very limited and the availability of other
environments is pretty hard to access. It’s hard to get off the mountain and get away to
do certain things because kind of the small community here. It’s not necessarily a bad
thing, but it’s just the way it is and if that’s not something you can be comfortable with,
you cannot develop that side of yourself.”
“So socially I think they could improve it because they need more activities out there and they
need to put some thought into it. Thoughtful activities are gonna’ have some type of
show…people are going to show up to it if it fits them. Activities such as Bingo, salsa
Dancing, and other activities…BC All -Nighter. All those types of things, having it once
a year or once a semester….like no…make it happen more. So you have people who
don’t do things like drink, have something to do. They don’t even give that
responsibility to students…administration doesn’t do anything.”
“And then when I was a freshman I was talking with an actual friend, she’s [Asian descent] and
we were in Chemistry class and she looked at me and told me that why did I think I
wasn’t going to get the concept, because I was black…and that bothered me. Or if I was
late, it was because I was black and it just had a lot of references because I was black...
and it was a negative thing like being considered loud, obnoxious, and ghetto. I’ve
heard that from many students on campus to the point where I was stopping the way I
was dressing like if I was wearing hoop earrings, I wouldn’t wear them…stretch jeans, I
wouldn’t wear them. Anything that could stereotype me, I wouldn’t’ do it. Rap
music…I don’t think so…I don’t even really like it that much but even if I liked a rap
song, wouldn’t play it. And then as time went on, I stated to say “F it”, I’m gonna do
what I want. I started to go back to what I enjoy and I started to see more students that
preferred some of the same things I enjoyed doing too but I definitely felt like an
outsider because of things that I liked.”
“They [ faculty and administration] are whipped cream, it’s like on top. They sugar coat
everything. They’re like, oh we’ll come out and support, let’s do this and do that. Next
thing I know I’m looking next month and I’m like I see nothing that you guys said. So
it’s like back up what you say with actions. And I think…what I wanna’ go back to is,
admin needs to be more open. And students will learn from that, eventually. I mean I
blame the students too, but they learn it from somewhere.”
“I’m not motivated to keep doing a lot of things I am already doing, because I am seen as the
minority literally and my opinion is not respected.”
“Academically, once I tell my teacher’s that my father is from [another country], every time
they say something about [that country] they look at me like I’m an expert.”
“I’ve got to say that Sewanee doesn’t really want, I don’t believe that they want
diversity. They might say they do just to compete, you know, with other
schools with numbers, but I highly doubt that maybe, it goes back to the
trustees and the regents, but I don’t see that they really want to keep, that they
want, they don’t pay them. It’s not something that they desire to have. They
just do it because its progressive, moving forward, and it looks good. And I
can tell because they bring diverse students here, multicultural students, but
they don’t find a way to keep them here. They just bring them here with no
facilities, no faculty to depend on, and it’s just a poor, very poor experience for
multicultural students. So if they were really truly aiming for diversity, they
would also care about how to take care of the students.”
“Academically yes, because it’s hard, it just takes some time to adjust to how hard
it is. As for social events, yes I mean there are stuff that goes on that is pretty
fun. I can see myself getting tired of it in my junior and senior year but for
right now I’m enjoying it.”
“I feel like if we’re going to be more diverse, then the students need to engage
themselves about the world, the people that surround them. Whether that starts
with people on their campus or not, I don’t know, but it is their place to be at
those meetings and participate. I feel like with those meetings and
participating, there will come, I don’t want to say and immediate
understanding, but to expose themselves to that material, at least they’ll have
some sort of an idea and to be open to conversations about it. But not just
conversations, because that’s one thing that I’ve noticed with the Posse Plus
Retreat. We’ll invite many people from campus and we’ll get a few, a sprinkle
of faculty members, but usually it’s the same ones. And it’s no one of a high
enough position to do anything, other than take in comments and reflect on it
in their own way, but I don’t necessarily see any action.”
“I remember once we were having a group discussion and one of the kids asked
me where I was from and I said [major U.S. city]. And the kid was like no
seriously where are you from? And I was just like wow. I wouldn't expect this
from a group mate. If that was my answer that's where I am from and I don’t
see why you need to specifically know where I am from. I am proud to say
where I am from, but it just sounded really racial and he assumed I was from
some third world country or something.”
“I think I would, (i.e. attend Sewanee again) ya definitely. But it’s hard to say, ya
know. Life at another school might be better, but I’m satisfied. I think I like it
here. I would probably still come, I think.”
“ I want some enthusiasm. I don’t them to seem to do it just to pacify us, or to
pretend to be more satisfied, I want it to be a more genuine effort. That’s what
I want. “
“Well, it (the administration) definitely needs to behave as if we matter, that
multicultural students mean something to them. Listen to what they say cause
they’re definitely complaints. Just talking and speaking with multicultural
students. We have had students talk with and write to administration and
regents express the dissatisfaction of the Sewanee experience, but we have yet
to see any improvements. They should take us and our letters more seriously.
Listen to the students and ask the students what they want and begin to make
efforts to make it happen. And I think this could definitely improve the
experience of multicultural students here.”
For students I’d like to see more participation these events. I’ve noticed that we’ve
had some talks on…and I go back to African American, because I am African
American, so I can speak best on that. But I’ve noticed sometimes we have
these diversity talks and we invite people to speak on their opinions and
sometimes when they do they feel attacked and other times they don’t show
up. They don’t know anything about the event nor do they necessarily feel
there’s a need to talk about it. To me that seems as if they don’t care. And then
even on immigration, I noticed that we had a talk on that. At first, I was
hesitant to go, but then I found that I have a lot of friends that this affects their
lives and it doesn’t necessarily affect me, but there are plenty of people who
are affected. So it’s my job to go inform myself of these things. And I feel like
as a higher level of education we’re here to get an education on many fronts,
not just academically. I feel like if we’re going to be more diverse, then the
students need to engage themselves about the world, the people that surround
The common themes that we found are critical to the success of diversity and
inclusion at Sewanee. It is important to measure the campus climate,
interpret the results, and implement plans of action. Data supports that
having individuals of diverse backgrounds in a setting interact with one
another have a positive effect on student life as well as having the
individual take a course on human diversity. In order for the students to
be happy with the overall Sewanee experience, the institution should focus
mainly on recruitment, retention, and relationship building. This in turn
can foster and sustain diversity on our campus.