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The campus climate survey, which will be sent out on Feb. 26, will be used to make real change on campus.
“A lot of people are quite concerned that we’re going to do this survey, and a report is going to come out and it’s going to sit on someone’s bookshelf and collect dust,” said Annie Holmes, executive director of the Office of University Diversity and Inclusivity. “We don’t want this to come out and spend a lot of time talking about the findings. We want to put action to it.”
What is campus climate?
“Campus climate is defined as the attitudes and behaviors that shape the working and learning environment,” Holmes said. “We’re not talking about the weather, but in a sense, we’re talking about the feeling.”
How was the survey created?
When Cal Poly was reviewed by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation board, they recommended the university get more information about what was really happening on campus, Holmes said. Though some small-scale surveys had been done before, this is the first university-wide, comprehensive look at campus climate.
To create the questions on the survey, Holmes formed a “working group” of faculty, staff and students on campus. Each person in the group was selected because they would make a valuable contribution. They “tried to draw from a broad scope of experience and intersectionality,” she said.
A third-party expert was also hired, who had experience creating campus climate surveys. She brought 200 questions to the working group, which sorted through and selected which ones were the most significant. They added their own questions, as well, she said.
What will be on the survey?
The only question that everyone will answer is the first one: whether they are a faculty, staff member or student. From there, the survey will ask questions about the person’s experience on campus unique to their position.
There’s a broad range of questions, Holmes said. Questions about demographics are consistent across the board, but there will also be questions about sexuality and spirituality, as well as how physically accessible resources are on campus.
For faculty and staff, the questions are geared toward work-life balance. She’s heard that faculty and staff might feel overworked or overwhelmed, and this is a good opportunity for them to express that, she said.
The goal is to find out whether the campus climate is welcoming and supportive in and out of the classroom, she said.
“What we’re really trying to get to is the experiences and the perceptions of the faculty, staff and students,” Holmes said. “What institutional actions are in place now that are assisting with those, and what are some of the things that we need to change and do differently?”
What will happen with the results?
The goal of the survey is to get hard data that will back up concerns the administration has heard in the past, and to use that to make progress.
The survey needs a 30 percent response rate to be statistically significant, but Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong is aiming for a 50 percent rate, Holmes said. The more people that take it, the better.
“We can start putting some of their stories together, and that will give us a bigger picture of what we’re dealing with on campus,” Holmes said. “It will help inform the work that we need to do to follow up.”
The working group, which is still meeting, is brainstorming and preparing resources to address issues. Once the results are in, they will pick the top two to three problems and make initiatives to implement change right away, Holmes said.
Some of these changes might include looking at the Diversity Learning Objectives and educating faculty, staff and students about different topics to change the culture on campus.
“We want to make sure that everyone feels that they can be a Mustang, and they are part of this community and they can be successful within the community,” Holmes said. “That’s really the ultimate goal for doing this.”