Students

2 Flagship Universities Surveyed the Campus Climate. Here’s What They Found.

November 03, 2017

U. of Michigan at Ann Arbor
At the U. of Michigan at Ann Arbor, 62 percent of racial-minority students and 73 percent of white students said they were satisfied with the campus climate.

The results of surveys released by two major universities this week show signs that several groups of students there are not satisfied with the campus climate.

While both surveys — at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and at the University of Wisconsin at Madison — reported that a majority of students surveyed felt welcome on the campus, significant discrepancies were found across racial, sexuality, and other demographic lines.

Both universities released statements in which they committed to act on the findings.

“This is crucial feedback from the people who experience life on this campus on a very personal, emotional level every day,” said Wisconsin’s chief diversity officer, Patrick Sims. “To the students who reported negative experiences, I would say, ‘We’ve heard your concerns very clearly, and we will use this data to make our campus a more just and inclusive place.’”

At Michigan, “the results show that certain populations of the UM community report feeling less welcomed and having less positive experiences on campus than what we strive for as an institution,” said Robert Sellers, vice provost for equity and inclusion. “We are taking steps to improve the climate for these groups as well as for the campus community over all.”

Here are some findings from the surveys:

Racial Minorities

At Ann Arbor, 62 percent of students who are members of racial minority groups reported being satisfied with the campus climate, compared with 73 percent of white students.

At Madison, 65 percent of students of color said they often felt welcome, compared with 87 percent of white students.

Sexual Orientation

At Michigan, LGBTQ students were 59 percent more likely than heterosexual students to say that they were not satisfied with the campus climate.

At Wisconsin, 69 percent of LGBQ students said they often feel welcome, compared with 83 percent of heterosexual students.

Gender

At Michigan, 67 percent of female students said they were satisfied with the campus climate, compared with 76 percent of male students. Women were also 14 percent likelier than male students to feel discriminated against.

At Wisconsin, 50 percent of transgender/nonbinary students said they often felt welcome on the campus, compared with 81 percent of students over all.

Disabled Students

Michigan reported that students with disabilities were more than twice as likely as other students to say they were not satisfied with the campus climate.

Wisconsin said that 69 percent of students over all felt as though they belonged on the campus, while 56 percent of disabled students felt that way.

Michigan Faculty Members

The University of Michigan also surveyed its faculty and staff members.

LGBTQ faculty members were three times as likely as heterosexual faculty members to report feeling that they had been discriminated against at least one time in the past year.

Both tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty members had nearly the same level of satisfaction about the overall campus climate. “There were no significant differences found between tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty,” a report on the survey says.

Nonwhite faculty members, however, both tenure-track and non-tenure-track, were less satisfied than were white faculty members. Among white tenure-track faculty members, 76 percent reported being satisfied with the campus climate, compared with 55 percent of their nonwhite, non-Asian peers.

Among white non-tenure-track faculty members, 79 percent reported being satisfied with the campus climate, while 67 percent of their nonwhite, non-Asian peers did.