Kaitlyn Tambasco, Managing News Editor
In the Spring of 2019, more than 700 students took the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates survey (NACCC) that was sent out by UC President Laura Casamento in March. The specific results are for internal purposes only and are password protected on the diversity page of UC’s website, according to Alane Varga, dean for diversity and inclusion.
The findings were presented to faculty and staff on Wednesday, Feb. 26. There will also be an open student session at 4 p.m. Monday, March 2 in the Hislop Auditorium in Thurston Hall.
The survey covers topics such as encounters with racial stress, impact of external environments, and others. The results were given last October.
Out of the 2018-2019 student body, 714 students participated in this survey, which is roughly 31%. Breaking this down even further, 75% of respondents identified as White/Caucasian and 14% of respondents were Black or African American. Also, 11% of students that took the survey identified as Hispanic or Latino/a/x or Chicano/a/x and Asian or Asian American students compromised 5% of the respondents. All other racial groups accounted for 1% or less than 1% of respondents. Some students also identified as more than one race.
Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Dean for Academic Assessment Ann Damiano said one of her responsibilities once given the results is to handle the sharing of the results.
One of the results in particular showed that many students of color feel like they do not matter in classes that are taught by white faculty and less than half of them said they feel that white faculty show concern for their feelings.
“We want to make sure we are articulating some kind of action plan based on the findings,” Damiano said.
She said this is the first time that this particular racial climate survey was sent out to the student body. There has been no decision yet on whether this survey will be used again in the future.
Even though the response rate might seem low, it is a good response rate for surveys like this, according to Damiano.
“A lot of what we learned from doing this survey was reiterated in the community conversations that I have attended in the past and what we’ve heard through other surveys,” Damiano said. ”I think we can feel good about the reliability of the results.”
Damiano said many findings on the survey need immediate attention.
“The other thing I think has real implications for the institution is that we are not preparing students for a racially diverse society,” Damiano said. “I know that that’s a terrible claim to make but our curriculum, our conversations, the readings in our courses do not reflect diversity and that needs to change.”
Damiano said it is concerning that students are having this type of experience and they do not feel that the institution is terribly committed to changing that.
“We do have evidence that we’ve made progress in these areas but students aren’t going to go on websites, they shouldn’t have to,” Damiano said. “We need to do a better job of communicating to students about what we are doing and what we have done.”
Senior Gianna Boone said she found the information in the survey “upsetting.”
“I found it upsetting that it took a survey for them to become concerned when we’ve been voicing these concerns since my freshman year, which was in 2015,” Boone said. “When we complained, was it not enough?”
Boone referenced the town hall meeting with Shaun Harper that took place last fall.
“I’m a senior and I’m leaving,” Boone said. “I want to make sure that they (underclassmen) have a much better experience than the one that I had here.”
The survey was part of ongoing efforts to pay attention to issues that have been raised over a series of years around the climate that is being built at UC, said Varga.
Varga said UC connected with Shaun Harper, who came in the fall, because he is the executive director of USC’s Race and Equity Center. She said this survey that was intended to be quantitative around experiences of mattering, belonging inside and outside of the classroom, particularly relating to racial climate on campus.
“Some of the information presented is hard to hear,” Varga said. “The ways in which this data describes some of the experiences that our students are having is something that I think anybody would be concerned about.”
Varga said that she and others have talked to students in President Casamento’s cabinet about this and said she thinks some of the figures might and might not be a surprise.
“I hope that folks are invested in the experience of students on campus,” Varga said. “This is something that provides us with information about how students are experiencing climate at UC, inside and outside of the classroom and this is our community. As an educational institution we have an investment in the kind of experience we want students to have here and we all have a role in that.”
Varga said an action plan will come from the sessions that are offered. That involves asking people in the room what they would do next.
“For me, it’s really part of that ongoing cycle of getting information and being proactive,” Varga said. “We talk about what that information is, we figure out what to do with that and we take a look at the changes that have been made.”
Varga said that as much as we might have a sense anecdotally of what an individual is experiencing on campus, the administration cannot and does not know the experiences of 3,000 students that attend the college.
“We can see this as an opportunity to pull out some of the kinds of things that we need to work on and to keep that moving forward,” Varga said. “In our community too, I think we can do amazing things and this is just one piece of the puzzle.”
To access the summary, visit https://www.utica.edu/application/securedoc.cfm?unitID=4574AB43-4A9F-474D-936C0DD9E90087FE.