The University of New Mexico Division for Equity and Inclusion recently hosted a forum to share and discuss the results of the Equity and Inclusion “campus climate” survey, and to provide input into a corresponding action plan.
The survey was disseminated to UNM’s main and branch campuses and solicited responses from faculty, staff and students. Participation was as follows: faculty - 25 percent; staff – 29 percent; and students – 14 percent. Although the numbers don’t seem particularly strong, a consulting firm hired to research and do the analytics said that the outcomes were good for a commuter campus of UNM’s size.
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Jozi De Leon said, “The survey provided both quantitative and qualitative data that outlined areas where UNM is doing well and other areas that require our attention. Without data, we would have continued to function on anecdotal information.”
Some anecdotal information was confirmed through the survey results, while many new things came to light, she added.
Four out of five faculty, staff and students reported that it is important to have a campus environment that is supportive of diversity. Two out of five felt that there is a lack of understanding of the differences and issues that other racial/ethnic groups face.
Faculty outcomes were generally positive. The majority agreed that the workplace climate is more welcoming for various identities and backgrounds than others. Under-represented faculty cited that improvements were needed, and felt that UNM did not demonstrate value for diversity through its actions. Overall, faculty felt that they lacked access to resources that would better equip them to teach courses that address issues of diversity.
The majority of staff felt that it is important to have a campus supportive of diversity but felt they had little control to improve UNM in terms of diversity and inclusion, as well as their own experience. Sixty eight percent reported that they felt respected and supported by the UNM community at large. However, staff of color said that they had to worker harder in order to be perceived as legitimate. De Leon noted that staff of color are represented in lower numbers in the higher staff position classifications.
Students demonstrated the most satisfaction regarding their experience at UNM. Close to 70 percent reported that they have been exposed to courses that feature the history, culture and social classes of diverse groups, but that less than half to few instructors encourage students to work together.
De Leon said that the Faculty Senate just approved a 3-credit “U.S. & Global Diversity & Inclusion” undergrad requirement for all UNM students. Many of UNM peer institutions already have such a requirement. The requirement is intended to:
• Foster deep learning, critical thinking, leadership skills, cross-cultural understanding, engagement, lifelong learning and student success
• Create proactive learning communities that brings to life UNM’s mission and values
• Foster readiness for interacting in a diverse U.S. and global society
• Fulfill Accreditation Criteria
It benefits ALL students since the skills gained are applicable across careers as: teachers, doctors, lawyers, police officers, scholars, policy makers, artists, future leaders of our state, nation and globe.
This is something that the Diversity Council and the Division for Equity and Inclusion have been working toward for a little over a year. “I believe it will make a difference in creating some of the understanding that respondents of the Equity and Inclusion Survey felt was lacking,” De Leon said.
The forum was attended by an engaged and motivated group of individuals, some of whom had been part of other diversity discussions and newcomers who had not participated in other diversity events but were interested in the survey results. They shared their ideas with the group and many stayed and talked to De Leon after the forum.
“The overall sense was one of hope and the need for action to improve the campus for everyone,” De Leon said. “But you can't fix what you don't know needs fixing.”