UC Berkeley launches campus climate survey

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UC Berkeley launched an online survey Tuesday in an effort to gauge the quality of the campus climate.

The survey is part of a larger University of California-wide effort to measure climate across its 10 campuses. A total of 430,000 UC community members will be invited to participate in the survey, making it the largest university-wide survey known to the administration.

“We want to hear about what’s working and what isn’t working” said Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Gibor Basri, who is co-chair of the system-wide survey effort. “Campus climate means ‘Do you find this campus a welcome and inclusive place that lets you accomplish your goals?’ We’ve never had a system-wide survey that was focused on that.”

According to Basri, the survey was prompted in part by repeated heated incidents between Jewish and Muslim organizations surrounding the UC Berkeley Divestment bill as well as the “Compton Cookout” at UC San Diego.

Salih Muhammad, the former President of the Black Student Union, called the UC-wide survey a “decent effort.”

“The administration must find effective ways to move from data collection to an improved campus climate,” he said.

The survey consists of questions geared at studying campus climate at both UC Berkeley and the UC at large. Data from the survey will be gathered primarily online, although participants can request a paper version. The survey will take about 25 minutes to complete and participants will remain anonymous.

In order to incentivize participation, the UC Office of the President is offering over $40,000 in various raffle-style prizes to those who complete the survey. The total budget for the survey is around $600,000, with a majority of the funds being spent on analyzing the data.

The campus is aiming for at least 50 percent participation from the UC Berkeley student body, Basri said.

The university hired Susan Rankin, an associate professor of education in the College Student Affairs Program at Pennsylvania State University, to analyze the results. Her consulting firm has administered similar surveys at over 100 other universities. Rankin, along with a team of faculty members, students, and staff developed questions for the survey.

Rankin will use data from other university surveys as a point of comparison for results from the UC Berkeley survey.

After the responses are analyzed in the upcoming fall, UC President Mark Yudof has mandated that each campus come up with at least three action steps in response to the findings. The administration plans on repeating the survey sometime in the next four to five years to measure the success of the changes implemented.

“In my experience, slowly but surely, awareness of campus climate will ensure that we will be a better institution if we take care of this stuff,” Basri said.



Shirin Ghaffary covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected].