Campus climate update: Campus prepares to interpret results of survey

 The results of the Campus Climate Survey from last year have been reviewed and the final report was written. The next step for the survey is to interpret the results and pass the knowledge onto the campus community. 

The two surveys, one for faculty and staff and the other for students, were open from October 2013 to November 2013. The survey asked questions dealing with how students, faculty and staff felt while at SDSU. 

Jacob Sutton, a junior speech communication and Spanish double major, heard about the survey from Jim Burns and Jamie Nolan, who were in charge of the survey, his freshman year while he was serving on the Students’ Association. 

“After [taking the survey] I was just really interested in hearing what the results were and how it was going to be taken care of,” Sutton said. 

Sutton is a student member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. The committee is tasked with carrying out the outcomes of the survey. 

“The report of the survey very clearly indicates that there needs to be a plan and a mission and how to move forward,” Sutton said. 

Jim Burns, an assistant professor and the principal investigator for the climate survey project, said that on the surface, the climate of SDSU was working. 

“But when you start to dig a bit deeper into the data and look at the experiences of students, faculty and staff from historically underrepresented communities,” Burns said. “There’s some work to do as far as educational offers and community building overall.” 

Burns said that community building and educational efforts can help to make a better climate for individuals who are not having good experiences at the university. 

“Even if they are a student who is having a really good time and doing well … I think the students have a stake in … making sure that all of their fellow students are getting the same opportunities and support that they require to be able to succeed at the university,” Burns said. 

According to Burns, there were 5,000 surveys sent back and 3,700 of them were fully complete surveys. There were 3,000 surveys completed by students and 700 completed by faculty and staff. 

“The students, the faculty, and the staff communicated a desire to … really make SDSU a very welcoming place for everybody,” Burns said. The feedback was … coming from a pretty good place.” 

The survey aligns with SDSU’s strategic plan: Impact 2018. The Campus Climate Survey fits on the strategic plan because it is helping to fulfill the goal of being a high performance university. 

Bob Otterson, the executive assistant to the president, said that the next step in looking at the campus climate is to develop a “communication plan” that will include a “synopsis” and the report that Burns wrote. Next, task force will be created. The last part will be announcing the communication plan and the task force. 

“[The task force] will be a group that will work with others on campus, but will take a look at what can be learned from the data and formulate any action items coming out of the data,’ Otterson said. 

Otterson said the data that was retrieved from the 2013 survey will become the measure to which other climate-based surveys will be compared. 

Sutton said the Diversity and Inclusion Committee’s next step is to pass the results of the survey to faculty, staff and students. Also, the committee will look into if there are groups that should be spoken to and what can be changed. 

“I’m looking into my role on how I can disseminate the survey to the student body and let them know what those results are and also how we can create some plans of action from the survey and really develop a good, solid ground … on how we want to improve climate,” Sutton said. 

Burns challenges students to be aware of what is happening on campus and to participate in the steps following the survey. 

“It’s really important that students are aware of what the problems are and what are we going to do to change it because any time you’re looking at making major changes in the culture, it’s got to include everyone,” Sutton said. “It has to be a community effort.”