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Campus survey reveals perceptions on diversity

Submitted by KenDrell Collins on August 22, 2013 – 2:01 pmNo Comment

Per the request of the UALR Diversity Council, the UALR Institute of Government Survey Research Center conducted a campus wide survey about faculty, staff, and student sentiments on diversity. The results of the study were released in June.

The research began October 3, 2012 with a self-administered survey presented to Faculty via web. According to the report, Faculty is defined as current full-time faculty.

The Staff, non full-time faculty, subsequently received the survey. Both Faculty and Staff participants underwent personal interviews. Finally, students were given the survey during the spring semester of 2013.

“After updating and cleaning the data, the population database consisted of 494 eligible faculty members, 1,046 staff members and 12,295 students.”

The findings from the study reveal how the three groups perceive issues such as race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation.

The results suggest that Faculty may be slightly unaware of how students perceive issues of diversity. When asked to gauge how  comfortable students would feel talking about diversity issues in class, faculty said only 18 percent would be “very comfortable.” On the contrary, the survey shows that 62 percent of students are actually “very comfortable” with discussing these matters in a classroom setting.

Another major finding is that nearly 25 percent of Faculty and Staff said they have experienced unfair treatment on the basis of age, race, disability, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.

“Of the Faculty who report having experienced unfair treatment, 51 percent cite unfair treatment was based upon Gender. Of the Staff who report unfair treatment, 56 percent indicate it was due to Race.”

As for students, only 15 percent reported personal experiences of unfair treatment but 20 percent claim to have personally witnessed such treatment. Additionally, over half of the students who experienced unfair treatment firsthand stated that it was due to race.

The report states, “Nearly one in five students indicate that they ‘do not know’ where to go to report unfair treatment at UALR.” Some indicated that they would inform a Dean, others said a professor or faculty member.

Uncertainty also exist in regard to how the University deals with discrimination issues.  About 50 percent of students said they were uncertain whether UALR adequately addresses incidents relating to race or gender.

Moreover, 23 percent of students said they were “not very confident” discriminatory situations would be resolved. Sentiments among Faculty and Staff mirror those of students, with nearly 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively, feeling “not very confident.”

Faculty and Staff were also asked their position on policy regarding benefits for the spouse of a university employee. About 68 percent of Faculty and 54 percent of Staff are in favor of benefits for opposite-sex domestic partners.

An even higher number, 76 percent of Faculty and 55 percent of Staff, indicated that the same benefits should be given to same-sex domestic partners. These results suggest that there is consensus among UALR faculty and staff that employment benefits should be the same irrespective of sexual preference.

To read the UALR Campus Diversity report in its entirety visit ualr.edu/chancellor/diversity/.

 

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