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Campus climate assesses UNC community

By Amy Golden
On March 26, 2017

The results of the campus climate survey were presented to the University of Northern Colorado community Tuesday afternoon.

The assessment, done by Rankin and Associates over a span of two years in collaboration with the university, worked to measure the climate of UNC.

“We did this climate survey because we wanted an accurate portrait of where we are right now as a university,” UNC President Kay Norton said to the town hall. “We need data to inform us and to help us focus our efforts going forward.”

Rankin and Associates is an external consultation group that has surveyed 178 other universities. The group is impartial and independent, with one of its goals being extreme transparency. 

On Tuesday, results were presented by Sue Rankin of Rankin and Associates in two town-hall meetings for the UNC community. Rankin stressed the reason why she conducted this survey.

“In everything we do, everything in every medium we have, students should be central to the discussion,” Rankin said. “If they are not, change the discussion. Whether it’s budget or facilities or planning, students need to be central to the discussion.”

The climate assessment began with 18 focus groups made up of 123 participants who addressed initial questions regarding current perceptions of UNC.

The main part of the study was a population survey made up of 111 quantitative and qualitative questions. It was distributed to all students, faculty, and staff at the university from Sep. 20 to Oct. 26. Of this population, 18 percent responded to the survey.

While 74 percent of respondents reported feeling “comfortable” or “very comfortable” with the climate at UNC, 20 percent reported personally experiencing harassment in some form. These numbers reflect similar campuses assessed by Rankin.

The top four reasons for these harassments were because of gender/gender identity, position (such as student/faculty/staff), age, and ethnicity. This harassment was primarily experienced as microaggressions.

In the survey, 26 percent of respondents reported observing such harassment. Rankin went into specific details of those who demographically experienced harassment and who was more likely to feel comfortable on campus, along with reactions to harassment experienced and observed.

Other challenges found in the survey included 34 percent of respondents who seriously considered leaving the university and 2 percent of respondents experiencing unwanted sexual contact at UNC.

According to Rankin, these findings are important because of how campus environment experiences influence learning and developmental outcomes. It has also been found that discrimination leads to negative effects on learning and while diverse students and staff have positive effects on a community.

Sarah Frazier is a graduate student at UNC who works at the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center. She participated in the survey and attended the town hall.

“I thought it was interesting looking at the faculty and staff, as well as the student perspective and seeing where we might have issues on campus,” Frazier said. “Some of it I expected and some of it I was surprised by.”

The town hall concluded with an outline of next steps, which Rankin called actions.

Community members can suggest next steps forward based on the survey at http://www.unco.edu/campus-climate. There will be forums that students, staff, and faculty can participate in from April 10 to April 18. Sign up information for these forums can be found on the campus climate webpage.


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