By: Erica Lampert ~Staff Writer~
While several students and faculty at Xavier feel the campus is a place to make lifelong friends, take risks, become a better person and create a new home, the Climate Survey taken by students last spring begs to differ.
More than 60 percent of students here at Xavier have admitted to feeling disrespected on campus, and about half of the students feel ignored and isolated by peers. 64 percent of the staff hired here also feel as if they don’t belong and have thought about leaving at some point during their employment.
These and various other findings were presented to the climate cabinet and the general public last week during the major findings presentation.
“The biggest takeaway for students was that some students— from all different identities—feel like they don’t belong at the university. This leads to retention issues, or reasons why students want to leave,” Director for the Center of Diversity and Inclusion Office Taj Smith said.
The results of the survey showed that those with various racial identities, financial backgrounds, and first generation students appear more uncomfortable on campus and in the classroom than white, not-low income students.
Some other statistics of the survey’s results included information about negative student experiences. Ten percent of students reported unwanted sexual experiences, including relationship violence, stalking, unwanted sexual interactions and unwanted sexual conduct.
Thirty-eight percent of undergraduate students considered leaving Xavier, 22 percent of graduate students considered leaving Xavier and 34 percent of students felt intimidated or bullied on campus.
“Another major takeaway from this survey would be the student’s negative experiences in the classroom, and as well as by their peers. Any bullying or mircoaggressions tends to come from their own peers as well as some their faculty,” Smith said.
The students are not the only ones affected by the climate on the campus, as several staff members also feel like they don’t belong at Xavier and stated that they have been disrespected and isolated as well.
The survey showed that the female staff at Xavier feel significantly less comfortable than the males staff at Xavier and that 25 percent of the staff experienced offensive or hostile conduct due to their positions or statuses at the university.
“Besides students, they also presented on faculty and staff experiences on the campus. To a degree, they were similar to the students where the staff also had negative experiences on campus related to the climate, and about 64 percent of staff had said that they have thought about leaving the campus,” Smith said. “This is for different and wide number of reasons, and could be because of the minimal opportunities to advance their careers, or some type of negative treatment they experience such as bullying or sexism.”
Within the following weeks, students are planning to meet in various action groups to come up with ideas to help solve the climate problems on campus. Once all of these groups have met, the ideas are will be combined, and two or three ideas will be chosen to help take action next semester and summer.
“We want to make sure these items are actionable and measurable. We want to make sure we aren’t just saying that we want more women in senior level positions at the university—how many is that, two, four? How do we know that we are successful at that? That is what these meetings are for,” Smith said.
All Xavier students are welcome to come to the meetings to share their ideas about how to change the climate on Xavier’s campus. If unable to attend the meetings, students can also share their input online through the Share Feedback or a Measurable Action link on the Climate Survey’s Resources page: www. xavier.edu/climate. There is also additional information on the Climate Survey located on this link.
One major problem with the Climate Survey, is that there is minimal student involvement in trying to change the climate on campus, despite the efforts to increasure includion of undergraduates.
“Out of the two sessions we had after the shared results, we only had about 12 students there. We really want to encourage students to come to this. We want to know what actions they want to see,” Smith said.
Smith encourages students and staff to respond online or to convey their ideas to him if they are unable to attend the meetings. The Center of Diversity and Inclusion believes that the more students become involved, the more students will see their ideas implemented to help change the climate in the way they wish to it to be.