The UC Berkeley Division of Equity and Inclusion released its findings from the 2019 My Experience Survey on Thursday, highlighting issues with marginalization and food insecurity in addition to an emphasis on inclusivity.
The survey found that there are still groups on campus that feel marginalized and described the need for greater campuswide efforts to promote inclusivity and address disparities between certain groups and campus culture.
The hope, according to campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore, is to monitor campus experiences via various surveys administered every two years and reevaluate resources available to address the needs outlined by the survey.
“It is important to survey the climate regularly so that we have a better understanding of the experiences of our students, staff, and faculty, the progress being made and where more work is needed to build a campus where everyone is welcome, supported, and belongs,” Gilmore said in an email.
The survey falls in line with the 2013 UC-mandated student and faculty survey conducted to assess the campus climate to better increase educational equity and justice. The 2019 survey results were initially planned to be released during the 2020 spring semester but were delayed due to complications related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the survey, 97% of respondents agree that diversity, equity and inclusion were important values to uphold. ASUC President Victoria Vera stated, however, that there are nuances between the majority of respondents’ identities and results regarding campus climate.
“Asking do you feel comfortable on our campus, do you feel welcomed, that’s not the same for BIPOC community folks, so sometimes the survey data can be swayed like, ‘Well everyone on our campus or majority (of) folks in our campus feel welcome,’ ” Vera said. “And that’s just not the truth.”
Additionally, the survey reported that one in four respondents regularly experienced exclusionary behaviors. Gilmore added that marginalized groups experienced even more of such behaviors, typically from peers in group settings.
Nearly half of the respondents also reported experiencing symptoms of depression, and more than half experienced symptoms of anxiety.
“The 2019 My Experience Survey does not capture the impact of COVID-19, but we do know that the pandemic is having a disparate impact on communities of color, along with the related financial crisis, the political climate, and the reckoning of racial injustice and violence that we have experienced in the current times,” Gilmore said in an email.
Before the pandemic, 27% of respondents were categorized as food insecure, and the number is expected to grow along with increasing levels of national food insecurity. According to Gilmore, minority and marginalized communities experienced up to 50% higher rates of food insecurity.
Vera said she aims to facilitate open dialogue within the ASUC and question what is being done in academics and within University Health Services to address the inclusivity and food insecurity issues faced by students.
“To further build a campus for all, we recommend that each department, unit, and campus leader engage stakeholders in dialogue and strategic planning to address the results in tactical and practical ways,” said Oscar Dubón, Jr., vice chancellor for equity and inclusion, in an email.