Jeanne Murabito is the Executive Director of Student Affairs at the College of Engineering and a member of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Implementation Committee.
In my position at the College, I spend a majority of my time every day interacting with and tackling issues that affect our students. Because of that, I have to say I was not surprised by the results of the 2016 Campus Climate Survey released last week.
Overall, 72 percent of our community say they are satisfied with the climate at the University of Michigan. However, unsurprisingly, those positive experiences are not evenly distributed. Females and underrepresented minorities are less satisfied with the climate and have less positive experiences than others. And members of traditionally marginalized groups across race, sex, sexual orientation, age, ability status and national origin experience the campus less positively than members of traditional majority groups.
I was saddened to see that students with disabilities and LGBTQ+ students were much more likely to report feeling neutral, unsatisfied or very unsatisfied, at 145 percent and 59 percent respectively. And that members of minority groups were significantly more likely to report experiencing discrimination, with white students being 331 percent less likely than black students and 75 percent as likely as Hispanic/Latino students to report feeling neutral, unsatisfied, or very unsatisfied.
U-M is not the only campus where these discrepancies can be found. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last week that the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed similar results from their survey. But the fact that our problems are not unique are not stopping us from tackling them.
As an administrator at the College of Engineering for more than 17 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with thousands of students from across the globe. They each brought their unique perspectives and experiences to campus, and left it a better place than they found it. As a member of the College’s DEI Implementation Committee and head of its Student Affairs office, I believe it is my duty to ensure each and every one of our students has an experience that is inclusive – and that they feel comfortable every single day.
This report gives our committee and the College a great foundation of information to work with. But with only a sampling of our student body (2500 students) responding, it is not the complete picture. I urge you to participate in the Student Climate Survey happening now through December 8. The more information we have about your experiences, the more proactive we can be in tackling the climate to ensure we all feel welcome and respected.