Sunday, May 27

Editorial: Surveys valuable to understanding, improving campus climate

Further feedback on levels of appreciation needed to improve student interactions

The issue

UCLA conducted a survey on campus climate in 2011, and the University of California is currently conducting its own survey system-wide. The UC survey opens to UCLA Tuesday.

Our stance

These surveys are crucial. Administrators need a deeper understanding of campus climate to determine the best approach for increasing students’ appreciation for other cultures and identities.

The two instances of hateful vandalism that occurred on campus last quarter point to the importance of ongoing efforts to gauge whether students feel accepted at UCLA.

In November, racial and sexist slurs were found written on a Vietnamese Student Union sign and in a Powell Library bathroom.

These incidents are part of a history of similar events that include hate speech graffitied on the door of a student’s North Village apartment and the viral “Asians in the Library” YouTube video.

The question that circulates around these cases is whether they should be attributed to an individual’s lack of judgment or to the campus environment as a whole.

A crucial step for the university to take is to measure what administrators call “campus climate” – whether students feel valued and comfortable with their identity at UCLA. Only with a deeper understanding of campus climate can administrators determine how best to increase the level of appreciation for others among the student body.

Both UCLA and the University of California are currently trying to measure campus climate through extensive surveys.

A UC-wide campus climate survey will open to UCLA starting Tuesday – and we hope that most students, staff and faculty take the time to answer the questions.

In 2011, UCLA students took the Diverse Learning Environments Survey, and officials had planned to release reports on survey findings early this year.

We encourage administrators to look carefully at the survey responses of each minority group – a point that Chancellor Gene Block thoughtfully discussed in a meeting with the Daily Bruin Editorial Board.

Block said that the overall environment at UCLA was “positive,” but acknowledged that the big picture may not capture how smaller groups on campus feel.

“I talk to a lot of students, and overall I still get the sense that most students are getting a lot out of being here and enjoying it,” Block said. “Now most of students I speak to, just because of the statistics, are representing the larger groups of students, just by nature of who’s here.”

Preliminary results from the UCLA survey showed that 94 percent of students said they thought the campus environment supported an appreciation of cultural differences. At the same time, though, groups such as African American and Native American students expressed some discontent with campus climate.

Fully and thoroughly understanding the issue of campus climate is integral to taking steps to improve how students interact.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board.

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