Opportunity to anonymously evaluate one’s experience at Santa Clara
The Santa Clara
January 25, 2018
An anonymous online poll called the Campus Climate Survey went live on Tuesday so administrators can gauge how members of the university feel about the school overall.
“It’s an opportunity for us to hear from all sides, all perspectives. What’s not just bad about Santa Clara, but what’s good as well,” Ray Plaza said, Director of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion. “This is also about celebrating and acknowledging what is Santa Clara doing well, and what could be further moved forward.”
The survey is made available to faculty, staff and both undergraduate and graduate students, with the goal of a 30 percent response rate from each group. The online survey is being conducted by Sue Rankin & Associates, a consulting firm outside of the university.
Faculty, staff and students have been working with the firm since September to put together the study and tailor questions for Santa Clara.
Sue Rankin & Associates has conducted 170 similar surveys at various universities, including eight Jesuit institutions.
The survey will be open for a month. Once closed, the consultant’s data team will analyze the results and prepare a report, to be given at the start of fall quarter later this year.
On the day the report is unveiled to the university president and his cabinet, there will be campus-wide forums to promote transparency on its findings.
The presentation will take place by the end of October, before budget decisions are finalized for the subsequent year. That way, some budget can be allocated for addressing the survey results’ immediate needs.
Plaza hopes to repeat the study in 4-5 years and see if the university has grown and made an impact on the current issues at hand.
There are different events in place to encourage community member participation.
The MCC hosted a dinner and space to take the survey on Wednesday night in the Shapell Lounge, and Plaza spoke of an event tailored for maintenance and custodial staff with access to computers and translators.
The RLC with the most participants will win a pizza party, as there is an opportunity for those who submit contact information for an optional survey prize.
The need for the survey was highlighted by the Blue Ribbon Commission, as well as the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force established earlier this school year.
When the Blue Ribbon Commission was formed in 2016, the group recommended that the university undertake a campus climate study.
President Michael Engh, S.J. then convened a formal task force through the university coordinating committee to address the needs of a study.
“In many ways, this goes back to those recommendations, but we also want to acknowledge that the concept of a campus climate survey has been talked about before, but we were never able to get there until this point,” Plaza said.
He served as staff to the task force, and is now the project manager for those recommendations.
Both groups, which were formed in order to brainstorm ways to promote diversity and inclusion on campus, felt that clear answers to how to become a more inclusive university could not come without assessing how students felt towards the school first.
The online survey gives members of the university community a chance to anonymously shed light on issues that they feel need to be addressed and share personal experiences in order to improve function of the school overall.
“We know that Santa Clara has not been immune to the issues across the country,” Plaza said.
He noted the importance of Unity 4, the organization that started on campus in May 2015 in response to a racially-charged Yik Yak post.
“In many ways Unity 4 was a catalyst for where we are today,” Plaza said. “It was a result of those deliberations that Fr. Engh wanted to go ahead and institutionalize what the students had talked about, and that’s what Blue Ribbon grew out of.”
In his campus-wide email regarding the Campus Climate survey, Engh explains why he thinks this is necessary.
“At Santa Clara University, we work to create an environment of openness, fairness, and equal access for all students, staff, and faculty,” Engh wrote. “It is critically important to create and maintain a community environment that respects individual needs, abilities, and potential, particularly when we find ourselves disagreeing on social and political issues.”
His email also includes three main goals for the survey: identifying successful initiatives, uncovering challenges facing members of [the university] community and developing strategic initiatives to build on the success and address the challenges.
In his email, Engh explained how important it is that people participate in the poll.
“I need you to take the time to help us understand the current climate at Santa Clara University,” Engh wrote. “The survey provides you an opportunity to share your personal experiences and observations so that we can continue to change and improve Santa Clara.” Plaza agrees.
“The student perspective is critical and central to our work,” he said.
Jack Herstam, Associated Student Government President, also sent out a campus-wide email urging members of the community to take the survey.
“I encourage everyone—students, faculty, and all staff—to take part in this study so to provide the most accurate portrayal of this dynamic SCU community,” Herstam wrote.
News Editor Erin Fox contributed reporting. Contact Kimi Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.