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Chancellor's Blog: Campus Climate Survey shows we have much room for improvement

| Chancellor James Schmidt

This week I attended the presentation of results of the recently conducted Campus Climate Survey. I want to thank our Diversity Fellows, Melissa Bonstead-Bruns and Jeff Goodman, for their deliberate and diligent approach to creating, administering and analyzing our climate survey. The outcomes will be invaluable to providing the campus with a solid foundation of information that will enable us to measure our progress toward achieving our goal of a more equitable, diverse and inclusive UW-Eau Claire.

I invite you to view the slide presentation of key findings of the Campus Climate Survey, as well as the video recording of the presentation by Drs. Bonstead-Bruns and Goodman, which demonstrate that significant and important segments of our campus community have serious concerns about the current climate. Far too many of our faculty, staff and students are uncomfortable in class, in a department or in an office; are concerned about their physical safety; or are the targets of verbal harassment or worse. 
Unfortunately, these findings were not at all surprising to me. There have been a number of obnoxious, racist, threatening, and otherwise unwelcoming incidents and social media postings targeting multicultural and LGBTQ students and their allies this year. These posts have ranged from threatening people by name and race, to insulting racial groups, to denying that racism exists, to questioning why some students are on campus. While the First Amendment protects such inappropriate and hurtful speech, I want our campus community to know that we support all Blugolds, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or country of origin.
We are not alone. College campuses across the nation are struggling with these same issues. I believe this campus can and will address them in  meaningful and constructive ways that will produce positive outcomes for all. The university is committed to protecting the physical safety of the students who are targeted by social media or other harassment. The university welcomes all students, faculty and staff — and all of us have a responsibility to discourage bigoted behavior in all forms and to encourage respectful and civil discourse. I believe that our differences, even though we sometimes disagree, make us stronger.
In addition to the work of the campus climate team, I appreciate the efforts of the EDI Task Force who have worked hard to create a plan that addresses the issues documented in the Campus Climate Survey for students of color, and also to help achieve our goal of closing the opportunity gap and increasing our overall campus enrollment to include 20 percent students of color. The team's efforts will help inform steps to assure a more positive climate not only for students of color, but for LGBTQ students as well.

The EDI Plan is currently being discussed by shared governance. To continue our pledge for action, faculty staff and students are also being recruited, under the leadership of David Jones and Ann Rupnow, to work this summer to create effective EDI professional development programs that can be launched this fall for faculty, staff and students. As I have said many times before, it is imperative that all UW-Eau Claire students be prepared to live and work in an increasingly diverse and pluralistic society and world. This means that, together, we must continue to take decisive action to achieve our goals.

Read more Chancellor's Blog entries.