Campus Climate Survey Extended After Low Student Participation

After low participation in the NACCC Campus Climate survey relating to the status of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and the racial climate on Colgate’s campus — just over 400 students (13% of the student body) completed it in full and another 300 in part as of Nov. 4— the deadline for students to participate was extended from Nov. 11 to Nov. 18. Neil Albert, University Registrar and Director of Institutional Planning, Assessment and Research, said though  he was initially discouraged by the low response rate, he’s hopeful that the one-week extension will encourage more students to voice their opinions.

“The data [is] more impactful with leaders when response rates are higher,” Albert said. “There is still time to be heard and increase the collective value of the data.”

Since Tuesday, Oct. 5, Colgate students have received weekly emails encouraging their participation in the survey this semester. According to these emails, the survey takes roughly 15 minutes to complete and the university plans to summarize and share the results with the community at a later date.

In November 2020, Colgate joined the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance (LACRELA) in order to aid in their third-century plans of becoming a more diverse and equitable campus. The campus climate survey is among the initiatives involved in this membership, a requirement for all LACRELA institutions. 

According to an Oct. 5 email from Laura Jack, Vice President for Communications and Chief Diversity Officer, the results of the survey “will help [Colgate], and liberal arts colleges more generally, serve the needs of all Colgate students, and to foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive Colgate for students of all races.”

First-year Katie Maratea said while she was initially hesitant to take the survey, her perspective changes when she read the questions it posed.

“At first, it was really easy to dismiss the weekly emails as just another Qualtrics survey. However, once I actually started the survey, I could immediately see how relevant the questions were and how important the results could be for our campus,” Maratea said.

SGA President senior Elle Winter worked alongside Student Government officials, members of orientation link staff and Community Leaders (CLs) to promote the survey to the greatest number of students. Winter, a firm believer in the power of student voices, sees the survey as a valuable opportunity for students to share their experiences with the University.

“In order for changes to be made on campus that will promote a more inclusive environment, the administration needs to hear what needs to be fixed from a student perspective. I think that the range of questions asked and the topics discussed [in the survey] will do a great job of exposing some of the inequities in the Colgate experience,” Winter said.

Christopher Wells, Senior Advisor to the President and Liaison for Colgate’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan, said he found the results of past campus-wide surveys to be valuable tools for the improvement of Colgate and plans to use the results of this survey for similar purposes.

“For quite some time, [community surveys] have helped to shape strategies at Colgate for responding to issues of equity and requirements of inclusion, and the assembled team in the office of equity and diversity, and across the University, absolutely plans to use the data in this way,” Wells said.

According to Albert, the Office of Institutional Planning and Research put an enormous amount of work and care into creating, sharing and analyzing the results of the surveys they send out and calls on students to seize the opportunity to share their experiences on-campus.

“[The survey] is one of the most effective ways for students, as a collective whole, to express their views and to share their experiences at Colgate, and to shape Colgate’s future,” Albert said.