Understanding Our Baseline
Trinity publishes findings from its Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey
Friday, August 7, 2020
diversity and inclusion header with illustrations of students

“As a University, we must be open to the realities of our own campus climate,” says Jamie Thompson, assistant dean of students and member of Trinity’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. “It is a complex and long road ahead, but it is a road we must all travel together.” 

Over the past several years, Trinity has emphasized the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). In early spring 2018, Trinity expanded the director for Diversity and Inclusion role to include a) leading a comprehensive review of DEI on Trinity's campus; b) establishing a DEI physical space for students, faculty, staff, and administrators to gather; and c) selecting an instrument to measure the campus climate for DEI. With approvals from the director for Diversity and Inclusion, senior leadership, and the University Diversity and Inclusion committee, which consists of faculty, staff, and students, Trinity participated in the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS) Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey in spring 2019. The survey’s intent was to gain a better understanding of the experiences and perceptions of students, faculty, and staff with regards to diversity and inclusion on campus. 

After receiving the initial data, Trinity worked closely with the external survey consultant (HEDS) to disaggregate data by identity affiliations, while still protecting anonymity, in order to bring to light groups that have the highest level of desire for change. This extra time to analyze disaggregated data was critical as the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and other campus leaders identify the areas where changes will have the greatest impact.

“It’s important to benchmark against other colleges and universities, but comparing ourselves only to other institutions gives us a false sense of comfort when we know there is tremendous work to be done,” Thompson explains.

Unlike other climate studies Trinity has administered in the past, this study took a more holistic approach. The HEDS Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey asks campus community members about their:

  • Perceptions of their institution’s diversity and equity climate
  • Perceptions of how their institution supports diversity and equity
  • Experiences with discrimination and harassment at their institution

The HEDS survey measured four key indicators of diversity and equity:

  1. Overall campus climate
  2. Institutional support
  3. Instances of disparaging or insensitive remarks
  4. Instances of harassment and/or discrimination

The subgroups that were analyzed included:

  1. Role on campus (student, faculty, staff/administration)
  2. Race/ethnicity
  3. Gender
  4. Sexual orientation
  5. Political affiliation

View a short summary of the findings online.

The findings from this Diversity and Equity Climate Survey were shared first with executive leadership, followed by the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, who also received a presentation from the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness. The results act as a baseline to help the University determine action steps from these findings.

“As the University recognizes its 151-year history and recognizes the realities of our current climate, we are more aware than ever that fundamental, lasting change starts from within–as individuals and as a community committed to learning, action, and growth,” Trinity President Danny Anderson says. “We must be both transparent and accountable in the ways in which we succeed and the ways in which we stumble.”

Trinity plans to administer campus climate surveys on an ongoing basis using this initial report as a springboard in developing action steps. 

To view the executive summary and full details from the 2019 Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey, visit the Intentional Inclusion website. 

Michelle Bartonico ’08 is the assistant vice president for Trinity University Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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