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OU’s newest campus climate survey tackles diversity, inclusion

The Division of Diversity and Inclusion is sponsoring a campus climate survey for students, faculty and staff to collect data about Ohio University’s community opinions on diversity and inclusion.

The campus climate survey was made available to students, faculty and staff Oct. 27 and will be open until Nov. 17. 

“The survey is one of the action items of the (Inclusive Excellence) Strategic Plan as a step toward creating a sense of belonging for all and collecting data to inform decision making and continuous improvement efforts at the University,” according to an OU news release.

The Inclusive Excellence Strategic Plan outlines the current goals of the Division of Diversity and Inclusion. The plan includes steps to improve campus inclusion and diversity through action items, such as establishing Juneteenth as a paid holiday and establishing a committee to research the university’s relationship to “slavery, racial oppression and Native Land dispossession.”  

The last campus climate survey conducted with a focus on diversity and inclusion took place in 2018. It is normal for a diversity survey to take place every two to three years on a college campus, Duane Bruce, interim assistant director of the Multicultural Center and Multicultural Programs, said.

The survey consists of questions that are adjusted to coincide with the respondent’s relationship to OU. The questions are provided by the company that is conducting the survey, Viewfinder Campus Climate Surveys. However, the Division of Diversity and Inclusion has added a few other questions aimed to guide future action steps in the Inclusive Excellence Strategic Plan. 

“We added questions particularly around the section for ‘sense of belonging,’ questions that we added as an institution (were) because we wanted to take a deeper dive into that piece, especially because it's one of the goals of the Inclusive Excellence Strategic Plan,” Bruce said.

The campus climate survey is not the only aspect of the Inclusive Excellence Strategic Plan students have witnessed. The Make Respect Visible campaign began at the commencement of Fall Semester. In April 2022, upcoming action plans will be made public, Gigi Secuban, vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, said.

“Just like (the) Make Respect Visible was one of the action items under creating a sense of belonging for all ... this climate survey is under the goal of collecting data to inform continuous improvement and ideas about where we need to go in the future,” Bruce said.

The results of the campus climate survey will be public for anyone to see. The 2018 survey is not currently available because the university said it is no longer representative of the opinions on campus today.

“It's not online any longer because we've made a lot of progress since then, and it wasn't really something we could benchmark because it was a snapshot in time,” Carly Leatherwood, a university spokesperson, said. “I think that's one of the benefits of the survey that we're doing now … It's actually something that we can benchmark moving forward.”

To ensure students, faculty and staff want to participate in the survey, the university has offered incentives for each group. The incentives include gift cards and “OHIO Swag Packages,” which contain clothing and various donations from community businesses. Names of respondents to the survey will be drawn for the incentives. 

The more participants the survey has, the better representation of OU’s climate it will provide, Bruce said. It is important that the whole population of OU has their voice heard but, no matter how much data they receive, it will be helpful in strategizing future action plans, he said.

The survey is continuously advertised through email, social media and outside university buildings like Baker Center, but some are still unsure of what it is.

“I’m not going to lie: I don't even read my emails,” Candace Caldwell, a junior studying nursing, said. “If it's not something that's important to me personally, I just delete it. But now that I know about it, I'll keep an eye out for it.”

Sofia Baer, a freshman studying retail fashion merchandising, has taken the survey and said she felt it would be beneficial to everyone at OU.

“I think it just puts a lot of things into perspective, like when you analyze …  a situation and you're like, ‘Oh, well, how do I go about this?” Baer said. “It makes me think twice about how you would handle a situation or how you think of others or just terminology that you would think of using when addressing others.”


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