Statistics may indicate a diverse student body at Binghamton University, but do students feel that they are exposed to and comfortable with a wide array of backgrounds?
The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) has created the Campus Climate Survey to measure how different groups of students perceive their interactions at BU, and how they feel about diversity on campus.
“Our overall goal is to foster a climate that is welcoming, nondiscriminatory and that provides an opportunity for growth around the idea of diversity,” said Valerie Hampton, the chief diversity officer at ODEI. “The purpose of the survey is to gauge what the differences in experience are of a variety of groups on campus.”
Hampton’s office, women, gender and sexuality studies professor Sean Massey and President Harvey Stenger’s Road Map interns collaborated to create the survey.
Massey helped develop questions for the survey, having already compiled questions for a similar survey focused on LGBTQ issues.
Questions in the Campus Climate Survey cover topics including race, cultural background, sexuality, religious beliefs and gender issues. The survey asks participants to agree or disagree with specific statements. Examples include rating on a scale of 1-5 if “Classroom interactions between professors and students at Binghamton University are affected by the race of the student” and “I would not object to a person of a different religious faith moving next door.”
According to Hampton, the questions were tailored specifically for the BU community.
“We took a look at what we thought would work for Binghamton, not a canned set by a consultant but one that would get at our areas of concern,” she said.
Hampton said that it has been difficult to raise awareness about the survey among students. She added that in order to understand University trends, many students, faculty and staff would have to participate.
Lea Webb, a diversity specialist in Hampton’s office, said that surveyors are using multiple strategies to encourage participation in the survey.
“We’ve reserved some places in the computer pods for people to come in to take the survey and have engaged with all sorts of student organizations on campus,” she said.
To incentivize completing the survey, participants are entered into a raffle where they can win prizes including an iPad, a parking pass and a University Bookstore gift card.
When students fill out the survey, they can also nominate a Student Association-chartered organization. The two organizations with the most nominations will receive grants.
Isis McIntosh Green, the vice president for multicultural affairs, said the survey was a step in the right direction.
“The survey has done a good job in asking a good quality of questions in a short period of time,” she wrote in an email. “The questions are straight forward and [it] should not take more than eleven minutes to complete the survey.”
The Campus Climate Survey can be accessed by all BU students and staff from now until the end of April on the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s website.