With survey results in, MU is ready to move forward with new inclusivity plans

Chancellor Alexander Cartwright: “While our results are very similar to what has been found at other institutions, we are not happy with some of the findings and it helps us identify areas that we should address in the future.”

Sara Marquardt / Graphic Designer

MU and Rankin & Associates Consulting released a full report of the 2016 Campus Climate Survey results, which measure perceptions of respect by students, faculty and staff, on Monday.

The full 578-page report follows a pair of town hall forums on Sept. 12 and Sept. 13, where officials from the consulting firm and the university presented a summarized report to the public.

The Campus Climate Survey measured feelings regarding race relations on campus, graduate student rights and levels of respect felt by faculty and staff.

In the town halls, audience members and live stream viewers were able to ask MU leadership questions about the survey results.

Audience members asked about department accountability, increased parking options for students, Title IX protections and how MU administration plans to balance freedom of speech and students’ need to feel safe.

“Policies are not going to move the needle; we need to read the report and reflect on it,” UM System President Mun Choi said.

The findings are part of a wider survey of campus climate on all four UM System campuses, and reveal that only 66 percent of the MU community feels comfortable on campus, which is lower than the national average of 70 to 80 percent, according to Dr. Emil Cunningham, senior executive associate of Rankin & Associates Consulting.

The 120-question survey featured open- and closed-ended questions and was available online and on paper from October to November 2016. 9,952 students, staff and faculty participated in the survey, which equals about a 22 percent response rate.

Cunningham, who presented the survey’s findings, noted that the results must be viewed in context, as the survey was taken just after the 2015 protests, a time on campus when racial tensions were high.

Campus climate is defined as “the current attitude, behaviors and standards of faculty, staff, administrators and students concerning the level of respect for individual needs, abilities and potential,” according to the Campus Climate Survey website.

In addition to the lower levels of on-campus comfort, the wider survey found that 19 percent of respondents had experienced some form of hostile conduct. Of that number, the majority of respondents reported that the treatment was based on gender and gender identity, followed by ethnicity, position, racial identity and age, respectively.

The survey report also includes quotes from respondents.

“We all need to be treated the same no matter our sex, color, political views, etc. No one should have a leg up for any reason other than experience and qualifications,” said one respondent, who elaborated on suggestions within the survey.

Despite those reports, 54 percent of students felt that the university encouraged open discussion about difficult topics.

The survey also reported that 38 percent of employees seriously considered leaving MU, and that 47 percent of employees listed “limited opportunities for advancement” as a reason for considering a departure, while another 25 percent gave an unwelcoming campus climate as a reason.

However, most of the staff who strongly considered leaving actually stayed at MU, Cunningham said.

Senior administration such as Choi, Provost Garnett Stokes, Chancellor Alexander Cartwright and Kevin McDonald, vice chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity & Equity and UM System chief diversity officer, acknowledged that while the survey results were relatively consistent with national averages, improvements still need to be made.

“While our results are very similar to what has been found at other institutions, we are not happy with some of the findings, and it helps us identify areas that we should address in the future,” Cartwright said in a press release.

Nearly one year after the survey’s distribution and two years after the protests, multiple steps have been taken to increase inclusivity across campus. Students, staff and faculty now have representation in the Chancellor’s Cabinet and administrators have begun “Listen and Learn” tours where faculty and staff are able to communicate how they think their work could be better supported.

These steps will be followed by the final phases of the survey initiative, where Cartwright and the Chancellor’s Cabinet will begin developing and implementing strategic actions to create a more inclusive campus environment. Development is set to begin in the spring semester, according to the survey website.

“Honest, open and direct feedback is the only way we can work together to build a better Mizzou,” Cartwright said in the press release. “Our core values of Respect, Responsibility, Discovery and Excellence will guide us.”

Edited by Sarah Hallam and Olivia Garrett | shallam@themaneater.com, ogarrett@themaneater.com

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