A Campus Climate Change

With the 2012 presidential elections, we saw an impressive turnout in voters and a major upturn in campus involvement during that time. The elections were a means of uniting the campus, as many people recognized the significance of getting involved and voting, and fortunately did just that.

As pleased as we editors at the New University were with the turnout, we asserted that it was important for our campus to maintain that attitude, that we must not become complacent; we should channel that energy we saw from the elections into matters like Prop. 30 and the financial situation of the UCs. Now, the time has come to channel that commitment, energy and interest into the University of California’s campus climate survey.

The UC Office of the President (UCOP) is conducting a systemwide study on campus climate that is expected to run through spring 2013. The study consists of two major phases, with the first involving the data collection from students, faculty and staff from across the entire UC community through a survey, and the second involving the development of strategic initiatives and action plans derived from the data collected.

The first phase of the study is already underway, as the survey has already been administered at the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, UCOP and UCSF, and is currently being administered at UCSB and UCLA. The survey began being administered at Irvine on Monday, January 14 and will run until Thursday, February 14.

Purported to be the largest project of its kind of the nation, as it surveys more than 430,000 individuals, the study is meant to provide the UC with information, analysis and strategic initiatives that would  be incredibly helpful for the UC’s purpose of providing a caring community for a diverse, multicultural world.

Pennsylvania State University professor Susan Rankin, who is the lead consultant on the UC Campus Climate Study Team and head of Rankin & Associates, defines campus climate as “the current attitudes, behaviors and standards of faculty, staff, administrators and students concerning the level of respect for individual needs, abilities and potential.”

To gauge campus climate is integral, as the UC prides itself in being a diverse and inclusive system, and the study serves as a measure to see how much respect students, faculty and staff receive from each other in their environments.

Grounded in social science research, the study’s survey is purportedly very detailed, as it contains many identity/demographic questions, including gender identity and sexual orientation, for which there is no previous data.

Depending on the resources available, UCOP hopes to re-administer the campus climate survey every four to five years.

In addition, the UC wants a 100 percent response rate, so if such a rate is met, then the study would offer a tremendous wealth of information.

In an effort to reach that goal, the Office of the President is offering incentives, which include a $10,000 scholarship, iPads, as well as grants for both faculty and staff.

Even if incentives weren’t offered, it should be an instant priority for every member of the UC Irvine community, as well as the entire UC system, to take and complete the survey. Though we do take surveys every year here at UCI, none are as significant as this campus climate survey.

We should take part in this unprecedented study because it will not only help shape the environment that we deserve and want to engage in, but also give UCOP an idea of what it means to be a student, faculty and staff member.

The survey, which reportedly takes about 20 minutes to complete, is worth doing, regardless of how much time it requires from you. This is perhaps one of the most important 20 minutes that you’ll spend at UCI, as your contribution plays a significant role for the future of the UC, especially for its future students, faculty and staff. Now is not the time to fulfill the stereotype of an apathetic or lazy college student.

Like the presidential elections, the survey provides an opportunity for the entire UC system to unite in terms of participation. The fact that the UCI administration is getting involved by promoting the survey is a very encouraging action, as it can prompt action and change on campus. Another auspicious gesture is UCOP’s administration and handling of the study, as it is an improvement from what is often perceived to be a hands-off approach by UCOP towards the students. This is certainly a step in the right direction towards a positive relationship between UCOP and the systemwide student body.

Active involvement throughout the UC system for this study will not only unite us all, but also hopefully foster strong, positive relationships between all those who make up the UC community.

When we receive the survey in our email inboxes, let us take advantage of this unique opportunity to truly let our voice be heard. An open and inclusive campus is not possible without the participation of those within, and we must do just that in order to shape the environment that we want to engage in. Take the campus climate survey for yourself and the future of your campus.


Send all comments to opinion@newuniversity.org. Please include your name, year, and major.