Assessing the campus climate at Seattle University is a tough job, but the Task Force for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence has designed a survey for students, faculty and staff to take online beginning Jan. 20. The survey will give everyone on campus the chance to call attention to racial, sexual or other social issues they have encountered at Seattle U by sharing their personal experiences.
When the task force began meeting in September 2013, one of its fist goals was to assess the school’s current state of equity and inclusion. As Director of Multicultural Affairs and a member of the task force, Assistant Vice President for Student Development Dr. Monica Nixon has been closely involved with the survey since its inception.
“It’s really important to me that everyone here on campus recognizes that we all experience the campus climate and that we all help to create the campus climate,” Nixon said. “Participating in the survey is one way to create a campus climate that works for everyone.”
The task force has called on the expertise of Rankin & Associates Consulting to administer the survey. The company has conducted similar assessments for over 120 institutions, and will help identify the strengths and weaknesses of Seattle U’s campus climate.
The survey will include questions on four topics: personal experiences on campus, perceptions of how inclusive the campus is, how participants identify themselves demographically and institutional efforts.
For the survey to generate statistically significant results, 30 percent of every group that will be analyzed must participate. For example, to make a generalization about the experiences of undergraduate students at Seattle U, 30 percent of the undergraduate population will need to respond to the survey.
Gathering that much feedback can be difficult.
“A lot of times, people are really skeptical about participating in surveys because, what I hear is, ‘Oh, it’s just another survey,’” Associate Vice President for Student Development Dr. Alvin Sturdivant said. “Oftentimes what happens is that data falls on someone’s shelf and it dies off and no one ever reads it. What I’m certain about is that we have a commitment from the highest levels of institutional leadership to this particular issue, so that the university can be made better for all of our community members.”
Based on the results of the survey – which will take a few months to processthe task force will put together three actionable outcomes addressing the most prominent issues found in the analysis.
“It’s really important to get everyone’s voice in this survey,” SGSU Multicultural Representative Monica Chan said. “I think one of the most important parts of this survey is that we’re not just collecting data about the student experience just to have it. There are actually going to be actions that come from it.”
Chan, who first helped the task force to write and phrase questions for the survey, is now working with SGSU to market the survey to students.
“SGSU is really going to do a huge push to make sure we get the 30 percent response rate from students–though the survey is not just for students,” Chan said. “It’s for vendors, faculty and staff as well. That’s a lot of people that need to be reached out to, and SGSU will try to release some of that burden from the diversity task force by helping with marketing.”
As incentives for taking the survey, gift cards for Bon Appétit and the campus store will be awarded to a few select students who participate. Students can also enter into a raffle to win free, on-campus parking for one quarter. Survey participants can also bring a printed screenshot of their completed survey to the SGSU office for a free sticker.
“This survey is a chance for students to tell us in their own voice what their experience at SU is…around climate, around diversity, around multiculturalism,” Dr. Sturdivant said. “If you as a student have had issues in the classroom, or in your co-curricular experiences or generally as you’re making your way through the campus, this is an opportunity for the university to hear you.”
The survey will be available online from Jan. 20 until early February.