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Campus Climate results present challenges, strengths

On Thursday at Common Time, Carleton students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Chapel for Dr. Susan Rankin’s presentation of the Campus Climate Survey results.

The Campus Climate Survey has been a 2-year project that began May 2007. The actual survey was produced and distributed last April. Thursday afternoon, the results were presented for the first time to the Carleton community and that evening the results were available online worldwide.

Rankin said that “the fact that this college is willing to take this information and make it public to the world is amazing.”

Dan Lugo, a Carleton graduate, member of the administration staff, and development officer, introduced Rankin to the crowd at the Chapel.

Before Rankin’s introduction, Lugo gave special thank to Diversity Initiative Group (DIG), a group of staff and students that is responsible for initiating conversations of diversity among staff and students at Carleton. DIG had the opportunity to work directly with Rankin throughout the survey procedure.

Among Rankin’s many credentials is her work at Rankin and Associates, as an associate professor at the College Student Affairs at Penn State, and as research associate at the Penn State Center for the Study of Higher Education. Rankin has received a Bachelor of Science, Masters of Science, and PhD from Penn State.

Rankin became involved in campus climate surveys through her national survey in 1999. Since then, Rankin has conducted campus climate surveys at 77 colleges and universities.

In her 50-minute presentation, Rankin described the process of the survey from beginning to the end results. She explained the three main reasons behind the survey as providing a more caring community, to open a wider door for future students, and to improve the working and learning environment for everyone.

1,523 total people responded to the survey. 675 included comments with their survey, from which Rankin directly quoted during her presentation. The faculty response rate was 72%, the staff response rate was 61%, and the student response rate was 53%.

Among things Rankin discussed in her presentation were harassment statistics, work satisfaction, and the welcoming atmosphere of the environment.

According to survey results, Rankin said, most of harassment issues (including those of race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation) are “subtle.” Survey participants describe feeling “isolation,” “ignored,” or “excluded”. Rankin also pointed out that the source of harassment is usually the same as that of the victim. That is, students are most often harassed by other students, and staff members by other staff members.

Rankin moved next to satisfaction. 84% of employees report satisfaction in their position, although faculty is more satisfied than staff, and less non-exempt union members are satisfied compared to other staff.

91% of students were satisfied with their education. At the same time, however, 38% of students have seriously considered leaving Carleton at one point. As far as faculty and staff, 44% and 43%, respectively, have considered leaving.

Finally, Rankin covered the welcoming atmosphere of the classroom environment, including racial tensions within the classroom, how many racial discussions are encouraged on campus, and student-faculty interactions based on an individuals background.

Rankin concluded by discussing Carleton’s strengths and challenges saying, “Carleton is a community of faculty, students, and staff who are generally satisfied with learning and work environments…student response is complementary of faculty skills, and respondents express appreciation and excitement for the initiatives address climate.”

As far as challenges, Rankin outlined four main areas: classism, racism, sexism, and heterosexism.

Rankin encourages Carleton to use the data to move forward and not just paint a picture of the campus as is, but to be active. And, she says, while she can help, the choice to change and the actions to be taken are now the decision and responsibility of the student body, staff, and faculty.

Rankin said, “this is not the end of this project, this is the beginning, and I am handing it over to you, the Carleton community.”

Rankin will return in October again next winter to follow up on the survey results.

For more information, or the full report, go to www.go.carleton.edu/climate.


Excerpts from the Campus Climate Survey Executive Summary, courtesy of Rankin and Associates Consulting

Thirty-eight percent of all respondents have seriously considered leaving Carleton College.
* Thirty-five percent of students, 44 percent of faculty, and 43 percent of staff have seriously considered leaving Carleton College.
* Thirty-eight percent of men faculty and 50 percent of women faculty thought of leaving the College.
* Forty-nine percent of men staff and 39 percent of women staff thought of leaving.
* More than half (52%) of faculty of color thought of leaving Carleton compared to 41 percent of white faculty.
* Fifty percent of staff of color thought of leaving Carleton compared to 41 percent of white Staff.
* Sixty percent of LGBQQP staff thought of leaving Carleton while 41 percent of their heterosexual counterparts thought of doing so.
* Among students, 35 percent of women and 34 percent of men considered leaving the College.
* Forty-nine percent of students of color and 30 percent of white students thought of leaving Carleton College.

A small percentage of respondents had been sexually harassed.
* Six percent of respondents had been sexually harassed during their time at Carleton College.
* Women, people of color, and people who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, questioning, and pansexual were more likely than other groups to have been sexually harassed.
* Most of the survivors of sexual harassment at Carleton were students (n = 77), female (n = 73), heterosexual (n = 70), and white (n = 58).
* The perpetrator of the sexual harassment was most often a student (67%).

Within the past two years, 23 percent of respondents (n = 348) had personally experienced exclusionary (e.g., shunned, ignored), intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct (harassing behavior) that has interfered with their ability to work or learn on campus (hereafter referred to as harassment) 6 . Gender was most often cited as the reason given for the harassment. Women, respondents of color, sexual minorities 7 , and people with disabilities experienced such harassment more often than their men, white, heterosexual, and able-bodied counterparts. Many of them felt it was due to their gender, race, sexual orientation or disability status.

Harassment largely went unreported.
* Twenty-three percent of respondents had personally experienced offensive, hostile, or intimidating conduct that interfered unreasonably with their ability to work or learn on campus.
* The conduct was most often based on the respondents’ gender.
* Compared with 18 percent of white people, 38 percent of people of color had personally experienced such conduct.
* Of respondents of color who reported experiencing this conduct, 59 percent stated it was because of their race.
* Compared with 21 percent of men, 24 percent of women had personally experienced such conduct.
* Of the women who experienced this conduct, 39 percent stated it was because of their gender.
* Compared with 21 percent of heterosexual respondents, 34 percent of sexual minority respondents had personally experienced such conduct.
* Of sexual minority respondents who experienced this conduct, 51 percent stated it was because of their sexual orientation.

Perceptions of Campus Climate:
Most respondents indicated that they were “comfortable” or “very comfortable” with the overall climate at Carleton College (81%), in their departments or work units (75%), and in their classes (82%). The figures in the narrative demonstrate some disparities based on race and gender.
* Compared with 85 percent of white people, 66 percent of people of color were comfortable with the overall campus climate.
* Compared with 77 percent of white people, 69 percent of people of color were comfortable with the climate in their departments or work units.
* Compared with 85 percent of white people, 66 percent of people of color were comfortable with the climate in their departments or work units.
* Women were slightly less comfortable with the climate at Carleton

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