Rankin: ‘Your voice matters’; Four phases of Climate Survey

Addressing the issue of diversity at the College, Rankin & Associates — climate survey consultant of higher education — presented a Climate Survey Project, “Your Voice Matters: an Assessment of Learning, Living, and Working on Campus,” in the Education Building, on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Susan Rankin, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, discussed their plan to send out an extensive survey to all members of the College community including students, faculty and staff. The survey, Rankin explained, would consist of four parts: demographics, experiences, institutional actions and perceptions.

The main purpose of the survey, as Rankin presented, is to analyze the current climate, or environment at the College, on social issues and interactions.

The next step after that deals with the development of a plan that would initiate positive adjustments using the information that’s gathered.

She talked of “four layers of diversity,” which discuss how we are defined as more than just race, gender and ethnicity. It encompasses everything, ranging from a person’s income, job position or status, personal habits, religion, disabilities and personality. The survey touches upon many of these categories.

They are not only concerned with the success of students, but with that of faculty and staff as  well, Rankin explained.

She believes their performance and how comfortable they are on campuses and in the classroom affect their relationship and interactions with the students. Diversity among faculty and staff may better the environment.

If enough people participate in the survey and a sufficient amount of data is collected, Rankin explained that she and her associates would analyze the information and suggest recommendations to the College.

These recommendations would address each group — students, faculty and staff, Rankin said.

For example, depending on the findings of the survey, one suggestion may be to create a first-year seminar program for students and incorporate teaching diversity into the curriculum.

Kerri Thompson Tillett, director of Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Diversity and director of Compliance at the College, wanted to stress the importance of participating in the survey.

“We are looking for everyone to participate,” she said. The more people that participate the more accurate the information will reflect our college campus and will help to make a change, according to Tillett.

The survey took approximately nine months to develop, Rankin said. She explained how they used current data on the College to construct the questions.

The survey will only take about 20 to 30 minutes to be completed, informed Rankin, and is tailored specifically for the College.

When speaking about the importance of transformative change, Rankin said, “It has to be the people and institution that want that to happen.”