Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Last of Campus Climate workshops tackles topic of climate in the classroom

<st of the Campus Climate workshops, held on Wednesday, January 28, focused on improving campus climate mainly in classrooms. Joe Baggot, Dean of Student Affairs, was the chair of the Campus Climate workshop committee and described the experience of being in the committee as both joyous and deeply irritating. This was the fourth of the workshops held after the results of the campus climate workshop came out. The first workshop focused on how to improve campus climate outside the classrooms, the second and third dealt with campus climate as a workplace, and this week’s workshop dealt with campus climate in academic areas.

Stephen F. Kennedy, Professor of Mathematics, had cut up the figures in the survey related to Academic environment and presented them to those attending the workshop. Of the 1056 students who took the survey last fall, 245 students responded that they had experienced some form of harassment that had interfered with their ability to work. When asked “Who most often was the cause of such harassment?” Students answered that the majority of the perpetrators were other fellow students. The worrisome detail is that 126 out of the 245 people who reported such harassment stated that they had received it in classrooms. “This was shocking,” said Kennedy, since students spend around 10 hours a week in classrooms, a very small portion of their Carleton lives. For those who responded to being harassed, the survey had a follow up question asking them about what they did when they felt that they were being harassed. The most popular answer for this was “I felt angry”. Kennedy said that this answer was especially infuriating for him since it was the least productive of the other answers on the list, some of which included: “I spoke to a faculty member about it,” or “Reported it to the Wellness Center.”

Of the 245 students who reported being harassed, 150 were female and 91 were male, with 4 not identifying their gender. 120 out of 743 Caucasians reported being harassed compared to 125 out of 312 non-Caucasians. The breakdown of the figures of those who reported being harassed were: 35 out of 49 African Americans, 17 out of 72 Asians, 17 out of 55, 142 of 677 Caucasian/whites and 29 of 57 Latino/Hispanic. The numbers clearly point out that people of African and Hispanic descent experience life in classrooms much differently than the other students on campus, because the harassment rate for both these populations is above 50%.

51 Lesbian, Gay or queer reported being harassed, while 93 of them were not harassed compared to 183 heterosexual felt harassed and 693 hetero sexual people reported not feeling harassed. The survey answers for the question, “Do you perceive racial tensions in classroom?” revealed that African American students differed greatly with the rest of the student population in that they perceived much stronger racial tensions in classrooms. When asked about how comfortable they feel in the classroom according to their religion, students identifying themselves as Christians, Other religion and No religion had almost the same percentages. Some of the surprising answers from the survey came in the form of people who identified themselves as non-US Citizens or Dual citizens whose ratio about how comfortable they felt in classrooms was higher than students identifying themselves as US citizens.

The Survey also had a list of recommendations from which the students could choose what they felt would be the best way to decrease racial problems on campus. The top three choices chosen by students were,

1) Increase opportunity for cross cultural dialogue between faculty, staff and students.

2) Increase opportunity for cross cultural dialogue between students.

3) Provide more effective faculty mentorship of students.

The top three choices for faculty, which did not include the choices students had, were,

1) Increase diversity of staff

2) Increase diversity of students

3) Make a clear and fair process to resolve conflicts.

Dean Baggot stated that one thing this survey made very clear is that for many people Carleton is a great experience, but it is also an awful experience for others. “How we perceive Carleton and what is happening at Carleton is actually very different,” he said.

While most students answered that the problems at Carleton could be resolved by increased dialogue between students, faculty and staff, Baggot said, why were students not coming up for such workshops that provided such an opportunity for dialogue? Effort had been made to get students to attend, from advertisements, all campus mails, and even persuasion by Residential Assistants.

One of the students present at the workshop stated that a reason why many American students, especially those who are Caucasian, do not show up for these workshops is because growing up, they have been inherently taught to stay away from issues of race and equality since there is so much risk attached to delving into it. Another student present stated that the general feeling among students was that if you avoid these issues the best you can, you can pretend that they do not exist and forget about them.

Baggot said that while he does not believe in making it mandatory for people to attend such sessions, students should realize that the time has come to stop talking and start doing.

According to Baggot, the goal of the session was to collect ideas like “Butterflies in a butterfly net.” PostIt pads were passed around and all present could give suggestions anonymously to resolve the problems they perceived.

The ideas the students gave ranged from policy changes, to clearly addressing issues and methods of resolving harassment issues. Students present also felt that there should be a compulsory course on diversity and intercultural life. While Dean Baggot felt that people should take initiative on their own, Professor Steve Kennedy stated that by making such a course compulsory, a message would be given out that Carleton cares about diversity and takes these issues seriously.

Dean Baggot ended the workshop by stating that though the issues have not been resolved yet, by talking about them and addressing them Carleton has already made much progress. The solutions collected from these workshops will be taken into consideration by the Committee for Equity, Community and Diversity who is planning out the follow up that needs to be done on the survey.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *