According to a press release from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the majority of students on the UW-Madison campus find the environment to be inviting to people of all backgrounds. Even so, the university is continuously striving to make the campus a more welcoming place for all. One of the ways the university gains information about areas needing improvement is through Campus Climate Surveys.
UW-Madison releases Campus Climate Surveys to make changes in areas where students voiced needs for improvement. A recent survey released on Oct. 19, 2021 built off of a previous survey from 2016. This updated survey created a way to see potential growth and declines due to prior campus changes.
Over the five-year span, many students’ answers remained the same regarding respect in class, comfortability in reaching out to faculty, socialization, witnessing forms of intimidating behavior and the university’s commitment to fostering diversity.
Differences between the two survey results show a decrease in students' comfortability with reaching out to UWPD. In previous years, over half of the student population admitted to feeling comfortable reaching out to the police, but that number has since decreased to around 40%, as shown in the survey results.
"This is important feedback that will drive future decisions,” said LaVar Charleston, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, in a press release. “I look forward to having more to share once the full analysis is complete and the task force has had time to dig deeper into the findings and make its recommendations."
The Campus Climate Survey Task Force will take the next steps with the survey results and create a new set of recommendations for the university based on recent findings. The hope is that — during the summer — the task force will compile their set of recommendations so the recommendations can be introduced to the campus community by the Implementation Team in the fall of 2022.
Survey outcomes showed other changes, as well. The number of students who participated in filling out the survey increased from around 8,600 participants in 2016 to 13,400 participants in 2021. Respondents ranged from undergraduate, graduate, professional, special and part-time students.
In a recent press release, the university cited this drop as a result of students’ survey comments, which voiced “concerns about law enforcement and policing issues generally.”
When asked about considering leaving the University of Wisconsin-Madison, both in 2016 and 2021, around 15% of students agreed to leave. The difference in students' reasoning for leaving was explained.
In 2021, approximately 56% of students claimed they were considering leaving the university due to the campus climate and culture — a 16% increase from 2016.
Between the results of the 2016 survey and today’s, the university has taken steps to fix the issues students reported through survey comments and results.
Changes include creating diversity in all areas by bringing more people from underrepresented groups into different student and faculty positions. The university also focused on promoting an overall inclusive environment for everyone to ensure the welcoming quality of the campus extends to the everyday life of students, faculty and staff.
The university will most likely plan to repeat the same process of continuing to improve life on campus from survey results just as they did following the 2016 survey. Continuing to cultivate a community that values respect, awareness and education of diversity and inclusion is likely what many of the recommendations for the fall will include.