East bay takes another look at campus climate

Kali Persall,
Managing Editor

Last Tuesday, Cal State East Bay President Leroy M. Morishita sent an email to East Bay faculty and staff, urging them to participate in an anonymous survey to assess the campus climate for faculty, staff and students at East Bay.

According to Morishita, the goal of the survey is to gather data that will provide insight into East Bay’s institutional climate, inclusion, current attitudes and workplace issues. This will allow the university to address and bolster aspects of the campus environment that need improvement.

“We pride ourselves on being a diverse campus,” said Linda Dobb, associate provost at East Bay. “Saying we’re a diverse campus is not enough, we have to honor and respect diversity.”

Dobb said the decision to conduct these surveys was an institutional one. The university’s campus statement of diversity calls for consistent climate surveys every two to three years, this being the third campus climate survey for faculty staff and administrators at East Bay since 2013.

Only a third of faculty and staff responded to the survey last time it was conducted, in 2014. The university is looking to incentivize the survey this time around by offering tickets to a Raiders game and other prizes, according to Dobb.

The 2014 Campus Climate Survey Executive Summary reported that 658 students and 590 staff partook in the survey two years ago. Students generally felt that East Bay fostered inclusiveness, respect and a positive teaching and learning environment, and most students indicated an intent to return or graduate from the university.

The majority of faculty, staff and administrators who participated in the survey reported that they respected coworkers and colleagues and agreed that diverse perspectives were cordially accepted and acknowledged within various departments.

However the survey also identified a deficiency in diversity training and called for more publicly displayed policies and standards that promote diversity efforts on campus, as well as more training on how to recognize sexual harassment.

The survey also found that students who reported having disabilities weren’t satisfied with administrative functions, such as registering for classes, accessing online materials and textbooks and applying for financial aid. Students also reported that East Bay could improve on cultivating a positive, inclusive campus for LGBTQ students.

According to Morishita, the university addressed the feedback from the last survey by increasing diversity and inclusiveness in professional development opportunities, improving accessibility issues on the campus, increasing the number of gender neutral bathrooms on campus and taking care to match faculty and administration demographics more closely to the student population.

According to Dobb, the survey will help East Bay determine what the school can do to improve attitudes and the working environment through education.

Dobb said there haven’t been any major issues on campus regarding a lack of diversity. The survey aims to prevent these issues before they happen. “We want to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard,” said Dobb.

The survey will be conducted online through Educational Benchmarking Inc., which will allow East Bay to compare the results to other universities. The survey will be conducted from Oct. 26 until Nov. 18.

Dobb said the results of the survey will be compiled around Feb. 1, 2017 and the university will release a report. Dianne Rushwood, East Bay’s chief diversity officer and Kim Geron, diversity and equity liaison officer will meet to brainstorm solutions to address needed changes between February and the end of the school year.

The changes will go into effect by fall 2017.