UMD releases Campus Climate Study Report
The University of Maryland released its Campus Climate Study Report May 8, with the topic of inclusion on campus standing out.
According the report, nearly 80 percent of respondents said the campus climate was more positive than negative. The survey examined all groups on campus in terms of race, primary role, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ableness (physical and learning) and political ideology.
While some findings seemed positive, others were left to be desired. Among Black/African American students, the report stated they had a slightly higher average in terms of commitment to diversity for themselves (3.35) than any other racial group. Black/African Americans students also rated the perceived value and commitment to diversity and inclusion among students, staff and senior administrators lower than any other racial groups.
“Though universities aim to commit themselves programmatically to diversity, students, particularly Black students, have every day experiences on campus that leave a lot to be desired regarding progress towards equity,” said Dr. Rashawn Ray, associate professor of Sociology at this university.
Black/African American students rated the university’s value and commitment to inclusion lower than the other racial groups.
“I think universities should take to heart that Black students’ experiences do not match the amount of resources supposedly being allocated to this issue,” Ray said. “Diversity does not mean inclusion. Black students continue to experience exclusion, isolation, benign neglect, and discrimination on and near campus. This must be acknowledged.”
Another finding indicated that 54 percent of Black/African American respondents “strongly agree” that underrepresented groups are most likely to advocate for diversity at UMD; less than a quarter of White respondents (23 percent) “strongly agree” that underrepresented groups are most likely to advocate for diversity at UMD.
“The administration has done a good job aggregating information for the report. Now they are responsible to implement an action plan to make Black students, faculty, and staff feel safer,” said Dr. Jason Nichols, lecturer in the African American Studies department.
Racial bias was the most reported personal experience with offensive, hostile, inappropriate, or bias conduct on campus, at 12.5 percent.
“They [the administration] need to continue to dialogue with students, faculty, and staff to define terms like ‘hate speech’ in order to proactively combat it, rather than simply relying on the idea that it is protected,” Nichols said.