Campus Climate survey results released

On Nov. 2 Dean of the College Karlene Burrell-McRae ’94 announced the results of the Colby All-College Campus Climate Survey (CACCC Survey)  via an email sent to all students, faculty and staff, and linked to the results and executive summary featured on the website. Burrell-McRae also announced that the community will have the opportunity over the next few weeks to come together and have a larger discussion of the survey results.

The CACCC survey was introduced by the Dean of the College and the Provost’s office in the Fall of 2016 for the purpose of gaining insight into the issues of diversity and inclusion at Colby from faculty, staff and students. This process began with the College hosting 27 forums across campus with a variety of different groups from Colby’s community, resulting in over 500 people contributing to formation of the survey. The College created a Steering Committee for the CACC Survey, who collaborated with Micere Keels, Associate Professor of Comparative Human Development at University of Chicago, to create the guidelines and questions for the survey.

The survey was distributed in March 2017 to all students, faculty and staff, with all individuals receiving the same questions related to diversity, equity and inclusion at Colby. The student surveys were confidential, and faculty and staff survey responses were anonymous. Out of the combined groups of students, faculty and staff, 60 percent of people responded to the survey. The Colby community was incentivized to participate with an initiative that for every person that completed the survey, the College would donate a dollar to the Humane Society and the Sacred Heart Soup Kitchen.

The results of the survey reflect themes of inclusion and exclusion at Colby for both students and employees of the College. Over 70 percent  of participants responded that they feel welcome at Colby, and questions like “I feel like I belong at Colby” and “I feel valued at Colby” also received high overall percentages from all three groups. However, many faculty and students selected “ineffective” or “totally ineffective” regarding the question of “How well has Colby responded to reports of bias/harassment related to the 

following factors” on the topics of gender identity, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, religious beliefs, disability, political beliefs, socioeconomic status, mental health issues, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, while staff tended to select “totally effective” or “effective.” It is clear that there is a disconnect between the staff and the students on management of bias within these issues across the Colby community.

The Echo chose to publish some of the data from the first inaugural Campus Climate survey.

Diversity was an issue almost all respondents in the three groups felt positively about, with 94 percent strongly agreeing or agreeing that “[working at] a diverse college is important to me.” Many of the questions in the survey centered on the idea of diversity and inclusion.

Kat Restrepo ’18, a former SGA Executive Board member and current Class of 2018 class co-president, told the Echo that while she thinks the survey is a good step for Colby’s administration to take, she has two main concerns. “First, while in my four years at Colby there has certainly been change in terms of new administrators and construction on downtown dorms, not much has changed culturally, at least with regards to the broad cultural issues that it feels like the College loves to critique but never really does anything about. Secondly, it feels at times like the administration has a vision for Colby, one that they are adamant on implementing, that is very distant from the student vision.”

Restrepo added,  “That all being said, I hope that the campus climate survey captures both the great at Colby but also the ways in which we need to improve and that actual change comes from it that benefits students and creates a more open, inclusive environment.”

Restrepo believes that “The survey is an exciting step forward for Colby, especially in the fact that all students were able to speak out on their opinions anonymously.” The results of this survey will dictate the conversations the Colby community engages in, and shape the policy of the administration for several years. With the new Dare Northward campaign, this information will be crucial to ensuring that these initiatives that will be possible with $750 million are reflective of the actual sentiment of the student body and employees of the College.