Puget Sound’s Campus Climate Survey is one of many ways in which we seek to learn from students, faculty and staff members so that we can address issues, establish programs, and strengthen resources that will help us become the fully welcoming and inclusive campus we aspire to be, now and in the future.
In February 2021, the Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) administered the fourth iteration of the survey via the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium in response to the 2019-20 DAC recommendations reported below.
This is our first year doing this specific survey, however, in the past we have used a home-grown survey to gather information that has helped influence faculty hiring, creation and expansion of all-gender restrooms, development of training programs, creation of the Tacoma Public Schools Commitment and Access Scholars Program, and Puget Sound's partnership with the Posse Foundation.
Following receipt of survey results, DAC will share preliminary results and conduct campus-wide forums on themes that emerge from the survey. We welcome feedback and commentary and look forward to engaging in conversations about how diversity is lived and experienced by campus community members.
The survey uses the following definitions as outlined in the Diversity Strategic Plan:
Climate: The atmosphere or ambiance of an organization as perceived by its members that can influence whether an individual feels personally safe, listened to, valued, and treated fairly and with respect. An organization’s climate is reflected in its structures, policies, and practices; the demographics of its membership; the attitudes and values of its members and leaders; and the quality of personal interactions.
Diversity: Includes attention to identity characteristics such as age, disability, gender, race, ethnicity, religion/spiritual tradition, sexual orientation, veteran status, job status or socioeconomic class, nation of origin, language spoken, documentation status, personal appearance, and political beliefs. Diversity also includes attention to processes such as design of the curriculum, admissions policies and practices, hiring and retention practices, assessment of performance, budgeting, and any other day-to-day business decisions made within the institution.
Puget Sound intentionally conceptualizes diversity through an equity and inclusion understanding that makes clear how benefits for some groups are embedded in the organizational aspects of the university. Diversity thus accounts for and refers to historical practices and legacies, cultural and social representations and institutional processes that could cause groups or individuals to be systematically excluded from full participation in higher education.
History of Puget Sound's Campus Climate Survey
In 2012, a preliminary report, focused on the collective change in experiences and perceptions of Puget Sound campus climate as reported by faculty, staff, and students surveyed in 2006 and 2012. During the 2012–13 academic year DAC presented the preliminary findings to numerous groups on campus including student leaders, the Faculty and Staff senates, department chairs and directors, Student Affairs and academic leaders, the Cabinet, and the Board of Trustees. During this sharing process feedback from campus community members was discussed and documented. In addition, members of DAC thematically coded all the written commentary from the survey using an agreed upon coding system and reviewed numerous data displays of the quantitative data. For each focus area of identity/social participation DAC identified themes with underlying issues and recommended actions.
Based on patterns in the quantitative data, qualitative comments, feedback from campus community members, and other institutional data sources, DAC identified five facets of identity/social participation for in-depth analysis: gender, religious beliefs, socio-economic status, political beliefs, and race/ethnicity. These topics were selected because of the large number of campus community members ranking these as areas of exclusion, marginalization, discrimination and/or harassment; the depth of emotion in the commentary written by respondents; and the tension between silences and speech about these issues in the feedback sessions.
It is very important to acknowledge that this data analysis and sharing strategy has strengths and weaknesses. First, we know that each of us has multiple identities which intersect one another in our lives. Histories and patterns in our social and political systems create similarities and differences, disparities and equalities, disadvantages and advantages in our lived experiences. While a report or discussion focused on one facet of identity may allow for analytical clarity, it might also obscure important intersections. While focusing on only some of the identified facets of social diversity can be interpreted as privileging some identities over others, DAC remains committed to a broad definition of social diversity, even as we had to make choices about what concerns to bring forward for campus consideration at this time.
Second, our Campus Climate Survey is study of ourselves, for ourselves. While we have the benefit of seeing some comparison of what has improved or not improved between 2006 and 2012, we do not have the benefit of seeing how the experiences of this campus compare to other campuses through a similar survey. There are many strengths in Puget Sound’s work toward and commitment to an inclusive campus climate—including our willingness to take a thorough look at ourselves—which we acknowledge, even as we examine data and consider action steps to accomplish additional gains in the future.
The preliminary report consisted of five sub-reports focusing on the identified facets of identity/social participation stated previously. The reports were shared with the campus community during the 2013-14 academic year in a forum style format. DAC members who contributed to the production of the report gave a campus climate presentation on each sub-group report and facilitated further discussion around the data and issues presented. The DAC campus sub-reports are available on SoundNet for campus community members to view. The vision for diversity and inclusion at Puget Sound states:
“We believe that reflective, thoughtful, and respectful examination of the differing dimensions of diversity educates and empowers all who work and study here to be advocates for inclusion and equity. All members of this community share in cultivating, sustaining, and continuously developing an environment in which equity is intentionally sought and inclusiveness is practiced.”
The availability of the DAC report online coupled with forum style presentations and discussions make for an intentional and open process of sharing and inquiry that honors Puget Sound’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. DAC is committed to ongoing conversation and continuous improvement and believes that sharing findings in this way is an important strategy for creating meaningful conversations. For example, in the 2015 iteration, a series of conversations in the form of campus forums addressing campus climate were held based on issues, as opposed to the themes in 2012. Each forum focused on addressing specific challenging issues central to understanding democracy, and cultivating campus climate and community. Issues addressed at each forum included: what is bias and the role Puget Sound’s Bias and Hate Education Response Team (BHERT) in responding to and providing education about, bias; freedom of speech, rights and limitations; identities, social issues and the call for a mutual endeavor; civility and respect; connections between national and local social climate, and; what campus climate data tells us about sexual misconduct at Puget Sound.