UW-Madison announces results of campus-wide survey on diversity, inclusiveness

UW-Madison announces results of campus-wide survey on diversity, inclusiveness

Most students on the UW-Madison campus feel welcome, but underrepresented students report less positive views of campus climate, according to a report released by the University Wednesday.

The goal of the campus-wide survey done in the fall of 2016 was to understand students’ experiences and the perceptions of the campus climate on diversity.

The results show that most students reported a positive campus climate, but students from historically underrepresented groups reported less positive views.

“That’s pretty clear. I feel the same way,” said Moe Lucre, a junior at UW-Madison.

He said recent events of hate on campus have reinforced his feelings.

“(I feel) nervous to see how far people would go and just like the survey said, unformfortable, like we don’t belong,” said Lucre.

While 81 percent of students overall said they felt welcome on campus, only 69 percent of LGBQ students, 67 percent of students with disabilities, 65 percent of students of color, and 50 percent of transgender/nonbinary students felt the same.

“A lot of investment has been made, particulalrly over the last two years, to try to up the ante in terms of moving the needle or at the very least getting a handle on how we think collectively and critically about the kinds of challenges we see related to diversity and inclusion,” said Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Patrick Sims.

Students generally felt like their comments and questions were respected by instructors in the classroom, but only 65 percent of students felt other students respected their comments and questions.

About 11 percent of students reported experiencing hostile, harassing, or intimidating behavior directed at them. That number goes up to 33 percent for trans/nonbinary students and 28 percent for students with disabilities.

UW-Madison said 8,652 undergraduate, graduate, professional and non-degree-seeking students participated, a 21 percent response rate.

Students said they want to see a strong and authentic institutional response to hate and bias incidents on campus.

White and politically conservative students were more likely to feel respected, welcome, and like they belong compared to other students.

A task force identified key issues found in the survey results and recommended the school work to ensure inclusive learning environments, increase campus safety, promote diversity and inclusion through dialogue across differences and improve institutional responses to incidents of hate and bias.

“It’s how do we demonstrate that we are wrestling with these issues and thinking about them in ways that suggest we have a nuance of understanding as opposed to something that feels superficial or surface,” said Sims.

The task force said the next steps should include increasing the faculty, staff and students from underrepresented groups and increasing the capacity of students, faculty and staff to respond effectively to hostile, harassing or intimidating behavior.

Sims said this is something the whole campus needs to work on together.

“It can not just be myself or the chancellor or the provost, it takes everyone engaged in this conversation to help us move that needle,” said Sims.

“It’s good that the campus is changing to acknowledge these groups of people that feel hurt or unsafe on campus,” said junior student Sam Julson