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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

October 15, 2004

Final report on climate survey due Nov. 1

by Anne Krapfl

Three-fourths of the respondents in a spring campus climate survey said that in the last year they have not experienced at Iowa State "offensive or hostile conduct that interferes with their ability to work or learn." However, about half of the respondents said they have observed such behavior on campus.

Such data was part of a preliminary report that consultant Susan Rankin shared during a public forum Oct. 14. About 80 members of the campus community attended.

Rankin's final report is due by Nov. 1 and will be posted online.

Survey results also indicated that 54 percent of the student respondents feel ISU classrooms are welcoming for under-represented groups. The same percentage of employee respondents feel that way about their workplace.

The online survey was conducted last February and March, with oversight from the President's Advisory Committee on Diversity, to gauge the campus environment for inclusiveness -- and exclusiveness -- for minority populations of all kinds. The last such survey was done in fall 1993.

Approximately 8,300 faculty, staff and students were contacted to participate in the survey; about 1,930 respondents (23 percent) completed the 64-question survey.

The sample population included an over-sampling of under-represented populations, random sampling of majority populations and "snowball" sampling of invisible minority populations, such as persons with learning disabilities or lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. Snowball sampling involves word-of-mouth communication, with the intent of over-sampling a group. So, for example, about 35 percent of the respondents were non-white.

The survey asked for information about:

  • Personal experiences regarding campus climate issues
  • Perceptions of the climate for under-represented members of the ISU community
  • Perceptions of "institutional actions," such as policies or academic initiatives intended to address concerns about diversity

Rankin's final report will include some recommendations for change in areas such as a social justice seminar requirement in the freshman curriculum, ongoing training for employees and an audit of university policies for inclusive language and intent. (Rankin said she believes a "social justice" approach to diversity leads to greater achievements.) She suggested that Iowa State develop a diversity strategic plan for five years at a time, an idea that is in place at some of the 57 other schools for which she has conducted surveys.

Implementation is the longest part of a climate survey, she said. "That's where you come in, if you want to change your campus," she told those in attendance. "Make sure there is implementation and accountability."


Consultant Susan Rankin shared preliminary results of a campus climate survey conducted earlier this year. Three-fourths of the respondents reported they had not experienced "offensive or hostile conduct" at Iowa State, but about half said they had observed such behaviors.