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Overall campus climate good but challenges do exist, survey finds

RELEASED: April 27, 2010

EAU CLAIRE — Nearly 90 percent of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students, faculty and staff are comfortable with the overall climate on campus, according to findings from a survey that all members of the campus community were invited to complete in fall 2009.

"Overall, the findings are very encouraging," Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich said of information gleaned from the survey completed by more than 4,600 students and employees. "Most members of our campus community report high levels of comfort on campus, students are satisfied with their education, and faculty and staff seem satisfied with their jobs."

The climate survey was part of the UW System's Climate Assessment Project. UW-Eau Claire was one of four UW System schools that participated in the project in fall 2009.

Campus climate is defined as current attitudes, behaviors and standards of employees and students concerning the access for, inclusion of and level of respect for individual and group needs, abilities and potential.

"As a campus, we're serious about our commitment to being an equitable, diverse and inclusive community," Levin-Stankevich said. "This survey is one of several tools we're using to assess our strengths and identify our weaknesses in this regard."

While the survey findings were mostly positive, they did identify several challenges that UW-Eau Claire must address, Levin-Stankevich said. For example, people of color and lesbians, gays and bisexuals reported feeling less comfortable in campus classrooms and in the greater Eau Claire community than the white and heterosexual survey respondents, he said.

"There is work to be done on our campus and with the community to ensure all faculty, staff and students — regardless of their race or sexual orientation — feel comfortable in our classrooms and in the greater Eau Claire area," said Teresa O'Halloran, assistant to the chancellor for Affirmative Action.

Specific findings from UW-Eau Claire's campus climate survey included:

  • Eighty-eight percent of the respondents were comfortable or very comfortable with the overall climate at UW-Eau Claire.
  • Eighty-nine percent of students were highly satisfied or satisfied with their education at UW-Eau Claire.
  • Eighty-nine percent of white respondents reported feeling comfortable in classrooms compared to 76 percent of people of color.
  • Ninety percent of heterosexual respondents reported feeling comfortable with the overall campus climate, compared to 73 percent of LGBT respondents.
  • Ninety-three percent of white respondents reported feeling comfortable in the surrounding Eau Claire community, compared to 80 percent of people of color.
  • Ninety-three percent of heterosexual respondents said they feel comfortable in the community, compared to 75 percent of LBGT respondents.
  • Two percent of the respondents reported in the survey that they had been sexually assaulted during their time at UW-Eau Claire. Most of those who reported they'd been sexually assaulted were white, female, heterosexual students.

"These findings are important as we move forward and continue to review our campus climate," Levin-Stankevich said of the survey findings. "It is a tribute to our faculty and staff members' dedication to our students and the university to see such a positive outlook when we are doing more with fewer resources and when employees have lost income in the current state budget."

The results of the campus climate survey will be posted online.

For more information about the campus climate survey and its results, contact Teresa O'Halloran, assistant to the chancellor for Affirmative Action, at 715-836-2387 or ohallote@uwec.edu.

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JB/DW

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