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Univ. releases diversity and inclusion survey

By Ryan Spencer

Section: News

May 6, 2016

Brandeis Administration released a Campus Diversity and Inclusion Survey, which asks about experiences with race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, international status and having a documented disability on campus. The survey, part of the Draft Implementation Plan for Diversity and Inclusion at Brandeis, was announced by Interm President Lisa Lynch via email on April 19 and will run until May 17, 2016.

Students were offered a $5 Amazon gift card or a $5 Chipotle gift card as incentive to participate in the survey. Each student who participates has the option of being entered into a drawing to win an Apple iPad. The survey is anonymous with students’ names being separated from their responses.

The survey establishes identification before addressing experience-based questions, asking about student’s race/ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic background, gender identity and documented disabilities. Students answer most elements of the survey by selecting a response on a scale that ranges from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”

The survey focuses on the campus community as a whole and features questions such as whether “Brandeis is a diverse community” and if “The curriculum at Brandeis encourages students to develop an appreciation for diversity.”

The survey also refers to perceptions of faculty and perceived classroom experience. It asks whether students agree with statements such as, “The climate in the classroom is accepting of who I am” and “My instructors turn controversial topics into good discussions.”

Questions address diversity beyond the classroom and include study habits, extracurriculars and points of view. Students respond whether they have studied or participated in activities with students of different backgrounds and identities. The survey asks, “During the current school year, how often did you have a meaningful discussion of ideas with a student who is of a different gender identity than you?”

Trends documented by the Ombuds are expected to “complement the data collected by the Diversity and Inclusion Survey,” wrote University Ombuds staff Erika Smith, Elana Lewis and Brian Koslowski in an email to The Brandeis Hoot. Trends documented by the ombuds staff may only be reported to the Chief Diversity Officer, who has yet to be appointed.

The Ombuds staff serve as a confidential resource where undergraduate and graduate students may discuss situations of conflict occurring with other campus community members. The Ombuds staff are independent of other university offices.

The Campus Diversity and Inclusion Survey was released five months after the conclusion of the Ford Hall 2015 movement in which protesters occupied the Bernstein-Marcus Administration Center until administration met a list of 13 demands. The demands involved issues of diversity and inclusion on campus, asking administration to establish plans to increase the number of students, faculty and staff of color, to create support systems for those people, and to create a more diverse and inclusive curriculum.

The sit-in lasted 12 days and concluded when student leaders and Brandeis administration signed a Draft Implementation Plan for Diversity and Inclusion at Brandeis, a nine-part plan to increase Diversity and Inclusion at Brandeis. The Campus Diversity and Inclusion Survey is a sub-section of one of the nine goals of the Implementation Plan.

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