Survey Finds Campus to be Tolerant

The Diversity Action Committee at Ramapo College conducted its second Campus Climate Survey.

The goal of the survey was to evaluate the experience of Ramapo students, faculty and staff on campus. It was distributed to every member of the community that had a Ramapo email account. The last Campus Climate Survey was conducted in 2005.

The findings are based on the answers of 350 out of 1017 faculty and staff members that responded. In addition, 657 out of 5,617 students answered the questions on the Campus Climate Survey as well. 

The committee hired an outside company, Educational Benchmarking Inc., to conduct the survey, assess the answers and provide recommendations for development. 

The 2012 Diversity Action Committee put together an executive summary of the Campus Climate Survey.

According to the executive summary, both the faculty and the student body believe they "as a whole are treated equally with respect to social group membership, and performance is not devalued based on social group membership."

Michelle Favre, a senior, is not surprised that the environment at Ramapo is evaluated as generally positive.

"I hadn't had any [bad] experiences," said Favre.  "All my professors are pretty tolerant."

Another strength demonstrated in the survey's executive summary was that Ramapo College provides an inclusive class and work environment and that students and employees do not hear "disparaging remarks on social group membership."

Eva Smith, a junior, also agrees with the results of the survey. "At Ramapo, people are pretty nice," she said.

She believes that there are a lot of resources available on campus, but that ultimately "the power is in the students' hands."

The executive summary of the survey also reported that the College has some major weaknesses in regards to its campus climate. Faculty and staff believe that "their work experience at the College has only somewhat taught them how to better interact with people from diverse backgrounds."

In addition, the executive summary shows that students at Ramapo College report that they are "only somewhat admitted by their peers."

recommends that the College would get the biggest return on investments if diversity efforts focused specifically on improving the extent to which the College publicly recognizes its commitment on diversity," the executive summary of the survey stated.

In order to enhance positive peer relationships and solidarity among racial and ethnic groups, the College "may want to address these issues by increasing community and team building efforts among students in both social and academic contexts," according to the executive summary.

The Diversity Action Committee is a campus group engaged with preserving and celebrating diversity in the Ramapo community. According to the Ramapo College website, its mission is to "respect and value personal uniqueness and differences, to seek to attract diverse faculty, staff and students that reflect the changing demographics in the region and beyond, to seek and acknowledge common ground, to challenge stereotyping, and to promote sensitivity and inclusion."

The committee is composed of faculty, staff and students that are dedicated to this goal. One of its biggest events is the annual Diversity Convocation.

Members of the committee hosted two town hall meetings to guide interested students, faculty and staff through the results of the survey on Feb. 11 and 12. Leah Warner, assistant professor of psychology and assessment sub-committee co-chair, summarized the findings, answered questions and accepted feedback.

The results of the survey can be accessed online. The documents include EBI's full reports for faculty and students, an executive summary and comparison with the previous survey from 2005.

So far, the analysis only includes quantitative data of the survey. The qualitative answers are currently processed and are to be updated soon.