Students relax in the MultiCultural Center, which fosters a community for students of different ethnic backgrounds at Cal Poly. The university is planning to launch a survey measuring Cal Poly’s attitudes toward diversity in February.
A new survey by the Office of University Diversity and Inclusivity aims to determine once and for all how much Cal Poly has to do when it comes to race.
The Campus Climate and Diversity survey will attempt to broach what has become one of Cal Poly’s most revisited and divisive issues: racial diversity. Mentioned briefly in Cal Poly President Armstrong’s State of the University speech earlier this month, the survey is targeted for release in February 2014 and will be issued to all students, faculty and staff members.
The results of the survey will be used to compile “action-items” — a set of at least three initiatives the administration will put into motion to address issues the survey reveals.
Assistant philosophy professor Rachel Fernflores, who is working closely with the survey team as part of a committee that includes Executive Director of Campus Diversity and Inclusivity Annie Holmes, said the survey will be one of the most important ever released by Cal Poly.
“We want to know how the practices and policies we’ve adopted as an institution impact how students experience Cal Poly,” Fernflores said. “We know students get a lot of surveys, you can throw all the others away. Take this one.”
The survey questions will be selected and compiled by Holmes’ office and will be distributed by Sue Rankin & Associates, a third-party consulting agency based in Pennsylvania. Each student, faculty and staff member will receive an email from the president’s office containing a link that redirects to the survey. It will not contain questions that ask survey takers to reveal their identity, college or department, nor will the survey itself be hosted on any Cal Poly server.
The survey was inspired by anecdotes from ethnic minority students on campus, Holmes said.
“Students of differing diverse backgrounds have discussed feeling excluded and treated differently based on their identities,” she said.
Armstrong has pointed to these anecdotes in multiple speeches as part of the reason for the survey. Selene Roman, a graduate student entering her fifth year at Cal Poly, said she has seen many of her Hispanic peers fall short of their academic goals as a result of depression and homesickness that may have been deepened by feelings of isolation.
“I’ve seen a lot of my friends fall into academic probation,” Roman said. “I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that they have to deal with cultural differences on top of everything else.”
More information about the survey will be made available at an open forum to be held Thursday, Nov. 7 at the Warren J. Baker Center for Science and Mathematics.