April 30, 2007
Study On Campus Diversity Says The UI Climate Is Good
University of Iowa undergraduate students have reported that the overall diversity climate at the UI is good, but there is some room for improvement.
That's the result of a recent survey commissioned by the President's Office and conducted by the University of Iowa Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. A report on the survey concludes that the UI can do more to improve diversity efforts, particularly for minorities, non-U.S. citizens and older undergraduate students.
The survey of 1,095 students conducted in Spring 2005 examined three main areas: campus climate, quality of relationships among groups and diversity awareness. In compiling its report, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity considered the responses of all the students in the survey, as well as responses for subgroups based on racial/ethnic group status (majority or minority), citizenship status (U.S.-born or non-U.S.-born), gender (male or female), age group (18-19 years old, 20-22 years old, 23-25 years old, or 26 years old and older), and class standing (freshman/first year, sophomore, junior, or senior).
Some key findings included:
--While responses in the survey were generally positive in terms of diversity, students who are racial/ethnic minorities, non-U.S.-born citizens and 26 and older reported less access, equity and inclusion at the university, and they perceived less institutional commitment to diversity than majority, U.S.-born and younger respondents. When asked if they felt as though they belonged at the UI, 80.1 percent of all respondents selected "yes." Minorities, non-U.S. citizens and older undergraduate students responded "yes" at lower rates.
--Racial/ethnic minorities, non-U.S.-born citizens and students age 26 and older also tended to rate the quality of their living, learning and working environments lower than did majority, U.S.-born and younger respondents.
"While we are pleased that most students are having good experiences at Iowa, we want to improve that number overall, and most importantly, seek to eliminate the differences in responses between groups," said Marcella David, the special assistant to the president for equal opportunity and diversity and associate provost for diversity.
A six-member subcommittee, with the assistance of a campus-wide advisory committee, compiled the report and made several recommendations covering the areas of communication, student engagement and skill development and future research and assessment.
Some of the recommendations include:
--Encourage campus leaders to better communicate their commitment to diversity to students, as well as have leaders attend more diversity-related events. The study authors also suggested holding focus groups to determine how students prefer to get information.
--Improve advertisement of diversity-focused events, both on- and off-campus, so more students from all backgrounds can attend.
--Create a "help" link from the home page of the university's website to help students identify offices and resources to answer questions or assist with their concerns.
--Provide training to enhance the ability of faculty and staff to guide students to appropriate campus resources about diversity.
--Continue to support academic efforts to provide students with diversity skills and cultural competencies related to their majors.
The report also calls for continued study of the diversity climate for undergraduates, including focus groups as a follow-up to the study, making diversity plans, and instituting diversity indicators to track student experiences.
Jennifer Modestou, director of campus relations and one of the co-authors of the report, said that the subcommittee was next working to finish analysis on the climate survey for graduate and professional students, to be followed by analysis of faculty and staff surveys.
For more information, including the complete survey results, see: http://www.uiowa.edu/president/task-forces/diversity-climate/index.htm
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.CONTACTS: Media: George McCrory, 319-384-0012, firstname.lastname@example.org; Program: Jennifer Modestou, 319-335-0705, email@example.com