Responding to the initial results of an unprecedented survey of student, faculty and staff experiences at UC Berkeley, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks announced a series of immediate actions to further improve the campus climate for inclusion and diversity.
The results, part of a University of California-wide survey made public Wednesday (March 19), show that a clear majority — 76 percent — of respondents report being “comfortable” or “very comfortable” with the campus climate at Berkeley and with their experiences relating to characteristics such as race, gender, sexuality, disability status, citizenship status and religion.
But at the same time, 26 percent reported less satisfaction with the campus climate and said they had personally experienced exclusionary, intimidating or hostile conduct. In this group were higher percentages of underrepresented minorities, people of color and multi-minorities, women, LGBQ, transgender and genderqueer respondents and staff.
“While the Berkeley-specific survey data indicate that we have ample reason to take pride in the progress we have made, they also make clear that there is much more work to be done,” Dirks wrote in a message to the campus community.
The survey represents a milestone for both UC Berkeley and for the UC system. It is the first time all undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff have been surveyed in detail at the same time about the climate they experience, both on campus and systemwide.
The Berkeley survey results correspond broadly with data gathered on UC’s nine other campuses and at the Office of the President, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources. Altogether, more than 100,000 UC students and employees responded to the 93-question survey, which was administered with campus input by Rankin & Associates, a consulting firm. (Full UC results can be found on the UC campus-climate website.)
At UC Berkeley, more than 13,000 people completed the survey during the period that it was open to the campus, Feb. 5 through April 22, 2013. That amounts to a response rate of 24 percent, in line with similar surveys, according to the consultants.
Among the findings at Berkeley:
In addition to the overall 76 percent satisfaction rate, a similarly high percentage of respondents feel comfortable or very comfortable with the climate for diversity in their college, department, school or work unit and believe the campus values a diverse faculty and staff.
Sixty-nine percent or more of students, graduate students and faculty are comfortable or very comfortable with the climate in their classes.
Only a little more than half — 57 percent — of all responding faculty, staff and grad students believe professional development opportunities and feedback to help improve performance were adequate.
Strong majorities of students — 69 percent of undergraduates and 79 percent of graduate students — were satisfied with their academic experience at Berkeley.
Among the 26 percent of respondents who reported personally experiencing exclusionary or hostile conduct, more than one-third said the conduct interfered with their ability to work or learn.
Differences emerged among those who experienced exclusionary conduct based on demographic factors: staff experienced more than faculty or students, ethnic and racial minorities more than non-minorities.
Similar differences appeared in breakdowns of comfort levels with the campus climate, by group, with staff, LGBQ, underrepresented minorities and multi-minorities reporting they were less comfortable.
Four percent of respondents said they had experienced unwanted sexual contact in the last five years, including 7 percent of undergraduates, and 2 percent of graduate students. Reported incidents included inappropriate touching by a dance partner; inappropriate hugging by a former boss; being grabbed by a homeless person on campus.
“The survey results are a clear baseline for the future,” said Gibor Basri, Berkeley vice chancellor for equity and inclusion. Basri, whose Office of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity was created in 2007, identified an engaging and inclusive campus climate as one of the top three strategic goals for the campus. Surveys are an important source of climate data, and Basri co-chaired the systemwide committee that worked with an outside consultant engaged by then-President Mark Yudof to accomplish this unprecedented comprehensive survey. Now Basri and his staff will be instrumental in how the campus makes use of the results.
The initial report represents just the first dive into the survey dataset, providing baseline information for all campus groups at the same time, he said; but that is just the beginning.
“The data contains a lot of demographic information that will allow us to slice the climate information in many different ways — different groups and affiliations, position at the university,” he explained. He and his staff will be presenting the survey results to a wide variety of campus groups over the coming months, to find out what further questions they would like the data to answer.
“We hope to use that, over time, to take a more fine-grained look at where action would be particularly effective in improving the climate campuswide,” Basri said.
In the meantime, based on his preview of the campus climate report, Chancellor Dirks Wednesday announced a series of steps he is taking to spark immediate improvements:
Workshops, training and educational materials for all students, faculty and staff in support of a fully inclusive campus climate, adapting curricula developed by the Multicultural Education Program for use across campus.
Supporting the development of the NOW Conference into a regular, annual event, and instituting a “professionals of color” leadership development program.
Authorizing the immediate formation of a new chancellor’s advisory board to address challenges faced by students of color on this campus, as recommended by the 2013 Chancellor’s Multicultural Student Development Taskforce.
Funding innovation grants as a way of generating new ideas for improving the campus climate.
“I am personally committed to what must, by its very nature, be an unending campaign to ensure that every member of our campus community feels respected and valued,” the chancellor said in his message to the campus. “I am convinced that no matter how far we have come, or how much we achieve in the future, there will always be room to improve.”