The University of California is conducting the largest university system climate study through the distribution of campus climate surveys.
The results will be used to help create an atmosphere of inclusiveness and community on UC campuses.
“There was a felt need on the part of the entire UC system to survey all of the university community: faculty, staff, undergrads, grads, professional students, folks over at the health center. They’re hoping to establish a baseline to be able to see whether interventions to improve campus climate were effective or not,” said Julia Ann Easley, senior public information representative at the UC Davis News Service.
The project is being funded by the UC President’s Initiative Fund, without the use of student tuition or outside sources.
The surveys, which were first administered on Oct. 29, 2012 at other UC campuses and will continue through February 2013, contain questions addressing concerns of students, faculty and staff regarding how they feel about their community, with the hopes of identifying particular groups in the campus community who feel that they are not represented.
“A lot of our survey is asking about the perceptions of our community over a lot of other stuff,” said Kirk McGregor, a graduate student representative involved in conducting the survey project.
According to David Ritz, vocational rehabilitation counselor in the department of human resources, these climate surveys tend to reveal a common pattern among different groups within the campus community.
“When we did the discussion about this, what we found is that a lot of the constituent groups have the same basic concerns: How safe am I to reveal my sexual orientation, learning disability, industrial or personal injury, etc.? [These] concerns were common across all constituent groups. It was interesting to see how cohesive the questions were because we literally just went, ‘How safe are you about revealing blank?’” Ritz said.
According to Gillian Butler of Budget and Institutional Analysis, this survey is completely anonymous.
“Anonymity and confidentiality mean two things. Confidentiality means that the researcher knows who you are but they will not attach your identity to your answers and that’s how we usually conduct research through our office,” Butler said. “We know who the student is so that we can put campus data, connect it to the survey answers so that we don’t have to ask about your ethnicity and gender, major, etc. But this survey is anonymous, so that they don’t even know whose answers they are.”
In order to achieve the best results, the researchers need at least 30 percent of the campus community to participate in the survey.
“It’s sort of like a jury system. If you want the system to work, then you need to be willing to participate. So if you want this to be a community, make it a community by participating,” she said.
UC is giving out prizes to participants to encourage students to take the survey. Participation incentives include a $10,000 scholarship for one undergraduate student, $5,000 stipends for two graduate academic or professional students, $5,000 research grants for two faculty members, $2,000 professional development grants for five staff members and, at each participating campus, two winners will receive iPads.
In addition, UC Davis campus incentives include four iPads, 75 Aggie gift cards worth $25 each, 25 UC Davis Stores gift cards worth $25 each, 10 $25 restaurant gift cards, 10 $25 Starbucks gift cards, 10 $25 iTunes gift cards and 10 $25 gas gift cards.
According to McGregor, the survey will be made available to students through links provided via email. Students will also have access to the survey through links at the computer labs on campus, and there will be flyers and informational slides as well as promotions at the MU.
“This is going to be a long-term tool. This will influence the next generation of students to come through … This is data that will be open to the public. We will come out and say as a community how we feel … and it will lead to change,” McGregor said.
The climate survey will be released to UC Davis students on Thursday and will be open to the campus community for the remainder of February.
The survey will be administered during the first week of February at the remaining campuses who have not received the survey: UC Merced, UC Riverside and UC Berkeley.
For more information about the survey visit campusclimate.ucop.edu.
JESSICA GRILLI can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.