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The Carletonian

Climate survey Closes With Sufficient Student Sample

<s of Carleton’s Diversity Initiative Group (DIG) and campus administrators were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief this week after Rankin and Associates Consulting reported the participation rate in the Campus Climate survey.

Amid a final promotional push from peer leaders, and campus departments, 55 percent of the student body took the online survey by Sunday’s close.

“We’re very pleased and appreciative for all the student participation,” DIG committee member and associate dean, Joe Baggot said on Thursday. On April 14, less than a week before the survey closed, Dean Baggot told CSA Senate that only 21 percent of the Carleton community had taken the survey.

Rankin and Associates Consulting, the Pennsylvania firm Carleton hired to create and administer the survey, said they would need a 30 percent participation rate to draw meaningful conclusions.
Rankin and Associates specializes in helping educational institutions create surveys that assess perceptions of equity within a community. While the firm has a general template for survey questions, Senior Research Associate Sue Rankin and her team spent days on campus identifying specific aspects of the Carleton community that could benefit from data about perceptions of equity.
With the sample size met, the consultant will analyze the data this summer and return to campus in the fall of 2008 with a comprehensive report. In the meantime, community members are left to speculate what—if any—institutional and social changes will occur as a result of Rankin’s report.

Over the course of their presentations to CSA Senate, DIG committee members have spoken ambiguously as to what Rankin’s role will be in suggesting a plan for Carleton’s future. On Thursday, Dean Baggot said the consultant was not hired to create a campus equity plan for the future.

“[Rankin] doesn’t provide recommendations; they make sense of what’s there,” Dean Baggot said. “We plan for the future knowing what we do well, and knowing the challenges that were articulated in the survey.”

In 2002, Rankin and Associates conducted a similar campus climate survey for St. Cloud State University—a Minnesota school with over 15,000 undergraduates. In the final 39 page report of the findings, the only mention of future action comes in the final two paragraphs. The report says the next step included working with St. Cloud’s Diversity Committee to create a strategic plan for maximizing equity, based on the results of the internal assessment. No campus specific suggestions were made in Rankin’s report.

“The campus has to want change,” DIGG committee member Maya Warren ’07, said last week, “I have faith Carleton will use the information [Rankin] provides and figure out what changes need to be made.”

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