University to survey campus climate, culture

About 11 years have passed since UW-Eau Claire’s last campus-wide climate survey, said David Shih, associate professor of English and Eau Claire’s first Campus Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Fellow. Now, starting Oct. 5, students and staff will have the opportunity to participate in the survey, he said.

A Campus Climate survey will be available for students and staff to measure how inclusive and welcoming the campus is for all groups of people, Shih said.

The point of the survey is to see if students and staff “are experiencing issues having to do with who they are that make the campus climate unwelcoming or exclusive to them, that may in fact be a barrier to their sense of belonging,” Shih said.

The survey will run for about two weeks, Shih said. The survey is voluntary and can be taken online or on paper. There will be incentives to take the survey; students and staff who take it will have the chance to win a prize, he said.

“The survey will help find where the university’s shortcomings are,” Shih said, “and how to proceed to eliminate them.”

The university is aiming for a 30 percent participation rate, said Daven Raj, Director of Student Life and Diversity for Student Senate.

Susan Rankin developed the survey with Rankin and Associates Consulting, Shih said. He said Rankin has developed more than 90 climate surveys for higer education institutions. UW System schools such as Milwaukee, La Crosse, Oshkosh and Stevens Point already have conducted the survey.

One of the trends Rankin has found to recur in institutions such as UW-Eau Claire in the past is sexual assault.

“The frequency of sexual assault would be one result of the campus climate surveys that she implemented in the past that may very well be something we find out about our climate and culture at UWEC,” Shih said. But we don’t know until those results come in.”

The survey will take 20 to 40 minutes to complete, Shih said, and “is fully confidential.” A variety of questions about demographic information, experiences with who people are, and their place within the university will be asked.

With the low percentage of multicultural students, Daven Raj said he is “interested to see how students are affected by the lack of diversity.”

Shih hopes to have reports of the results and follow up on the survey in the spring.

“They are going to be contributing to our goal of being a first-class institution . in all respects,” he said.