Climate survey results to come in May

The Campus Climate Survey is not about global warming, the natural environment or sustainability. It is rather about us, the diversity that we bring to Puget Sound and how diversity is perceived by the campus community. Is diversity honored, talked about, awkward or marginalized in our community? The survey, administered once every four years, aims to make Puget Sound an inclusive environment by asking its members direct questions about social diversity issues that are sometimes difficult to discuss meaningfully.
The results of the 2012 survey are expected in May. So far the only statistics analyzed have shown a very low student response rate. The program is thinking of new ways to reach the students like text messages urging students to participate through the email they received. This year the survey is tailored more carefully to our diversity categories.
Kim Bobby, Chief Diversity Officer, found that “last time [in 2006] some populations’ voices were missing entirely.” To counteract the imbalance Bobby individually interviewed volunteering members of the community to share their experiences. These narratives were compiled and presented for presentation the week preceding this year’s survey. This year’s survey has thus included a dialogue box at the end of each question to capture the more qualitative narratives on subjects of diversity and marginalization.
The 2006 survey also found that the campus cares about issues of diversity, with 82% of respondents saying that creating a diverse campus environment at Puget Sound was a moderate or high priority. This result let to the creation of the Diversity Advisory Council (DAC), which has been responsible for many of the diversity related changes and activities around campus.
“I do feel like our campus has been more engaged with issues of difference. If you look at posters on campus there are a lot of programs I don’t know if we had… in 2006,” Bobby pointed out. The doors of Wyatt alone currently post flyers for an LGBT rights activist, international club, a Conversation with Reverend Dr. Parker on Art and Religion, another with Reverend Dr. Webb-Mitchell entitled Beyond Accessibility: moving toward full inclusion in our faith communities, the Black Student Union celebrations of black history month and, of course, a poster for the Campus Climate Survey itself.
Most recently, the Diversity Advisory Council organized a series of events leading up to the launching of the 2012 Campus Climate Survey.
Professor Geoff Proehl, a member of the DAC, helped to make a vision come true in the week preceding the survey with two plays, readings, and workshops centered around the goal of getting people to acknowledge and talk about insecurities. Hearing Our Stories was an event that combined writings and staged readings about being different. Select narratives, submitted in the 2006 survey, were compiled by Bobby and shared. The idea behind the series of presentations was to get people talking and raise awareness of social diversity issues on our campus. Bobby acknowledges that “Yes, there’s tension, but aren’t we supposed to be a community of higher education, intellectually stimulated, intellectually challenging community? Why when it comes to issues of difference do we hesitate or silence each other?”
Bobby said to be sure to look for more activities like these after the 2012 survey results are in “something to keep the volume up on what we learned about the survey.”
The more opportunity there is for discussion, the more opportunity there is for students to become involved and get their voices heard. On an individual level, actions to make this campus more inclusive are available through panel discussions, voicing opinions during programming, sharing your narrative, serving on committees and taking the Campus Climate Survey.