In November 2022, Manuel Ruiz, assistant vice president for inclusion and belonging and director of social equity, facilitated several sessions to constituents of Shippensburg University regarding the 2022 Campus Climate Survey (CCS) results. The sessions conducted by Ruiz had a total of 27 faculty, 30 staff, 22 students, seven administrators and 10 members of the Council of Trustees in attendance. These sessions were held to provide a more detailed analysis of the results and to discuss results and implications of the CCS.
The survey, conducted in early spring, was conducted across all Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) schools, and the results are used to better understand the culture and climate at each institution. 10.6 % of students, 36.15 % of faculty, 36.1 % of staff and 58.9 % of non-represented employees participated in the CCS. Key takeaways include high levels of concerns among students about academic advising, a strong desire to have a more transparent administration (as many staff/faculty felt the previous administration was not), a desire for more intergroup dialogue when addressing diversity/equity/inclusion (DEI) issues on campus and a desire to continue to foster a safe place for marginalized students on campus.
Other notable results in the CCS were a sense of a “white versus black” in existing and historical DEI trainings and a lack of understanding of diverse intersectionalities including religion, political affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, age, etc.
Commenting on this, Ruiz said that “in doing this work, it is important [we] examine DEI through an intersectional lens … this allows for greater conversation and for folks to establish commonalities.”
Additionally, faculty, staff and students alike did not feel comfortable addressing their political or religious views on campus. This was a concerning result of the survey, as part of the university’s mission is “to graduate well-rounded students that should be able to have conversations through both a liberal and conservative context,” according to Ruiz.
Unlike other areas in the CCS that varied by constituency or demographic group, political and religious diversity held true more consistently across respondents.
As a result of the CCS, actions are ongoing to address these shortcomings. To support goals set forth in the 2021-2024 strategic plan, the office of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) and the PAGE Center now report to Ruiz as a centralized source of DEI training, dissemination and implementation. Previously, MSA reported to the senior vice president of administration and finance and the PAGE Center reported to the interim associate vice president of student affairs.
DEI has now been included in the university strategic plan, while the Office of Inclusion, Belonging and Social Equity has placed a strong emphasis on intersectionalities in multiple training sessions across campus. Updates to the First Year Experience programs are underway to further incorporate a sense of belonging to the university, connections with academic advisers and peer anchors and a continued emphasis on incorporating DEI into core program requirements. The full results of the CCS are located on the PASSHE website.
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