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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carleton Campus climate survey launches online participation forum

<llowing a campus-wide e-mail from President Rob Oden, students, faculty and staff are being asked to complete an online survey regarding campus climate.

In the e-mail, President Oden said the survey is meant for members of the college community to reflect on individual experiences and perceptions of Carleton. Available online, the survey is composed primarily of numbered statements asking participants to rank how much they agree or disagree with each statement.

Carleton hired an outside firm—Rankin & Associates Consulting—to create and administer the survey. The Pennsylvania consulting firm 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 several specific aspects of the Carleton community that could benefit from data about perceptions of equity.

Besides crafting the questions and administering the survey, Rankin & Associates will evaluate the results and make a plan for the college to move forward. Associate Dean Joe Baggot said Rankin will return to Carleton and present the salient findings and what conclusions can be drawn from data.

The survey was proposed by the Diversity Initiative Group, which is a 25 member committee that seeks to strengthen the College’s campus climate, work culture and institutional commitment to diversity.

DIG members Chai Lee ’08 and Dean Baggot spoke to the CSA Senate on Monday. When asked if he could foresee major policy changes as a result of the survey, Lee said it is too early to tell.

“We need to know where we are before we can make plans for the future,” Lee said.

In order to draw any statistically valuable conclusions from the data, a significant number of staff, faculty and students will need to participate. Despite the surveys’ length—it takes between 25 and 40 minutes to complete—and that it is not possible to save answers to come back later, Dean Baggot is optimistic about turnout.

“We’re going for a 90 percent participation rate,” Dean Baggot said, “[Rankin & Associates] says that we can get good data with 30 percent, but we want to do better than that.”

To advertise the survey, DIG has used a poster campaign to promote the survey using the slogan “Got Climate?” In addition to the posters, Dean Baggot said the survey has been advertised through President Oden’s e-mail, tabling in Sayles, multiple rounds of postcards in student mailboxes, and promotion through peer leaders.

During Monday’s CSA Senate meeting Senator Jordan Epstein ’10 said he and other students did not make the connection between the slogan, and a survey about campus feelings regarding diversity. Epstein said that with the survey being so close to Dorm Wars, some students were associating “Got Climate” with environmental initiatives.

Dean Baggot said advertising shortfalls have not been a big concern, “had [Epstein] read the President’s message, there probably wouldn’t have been the confusion.”

The survey will remain open until April 19, and does not require any type of identification or passwords to participate.

“We want to provide a picture of where we are and who we think we are as a community,” Lee said, “the only way we fail the survey is if nobody takes it.”

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