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The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

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The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

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University Discusses Intolerance, Harassment in 2023 Campus Climate Survey during Town Hall

Provost Katherine Baicker, along with members of the Diversity & Inclusion leadership team, answered questions about spring survey results.
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University of Chicago
Levi Hall

Provost Katherine Baicker, Vice Provost of Diversity & Inclusion Waldo E. Johnson, and Assistant Provost for Institutional Analysis William Greenland held a virtual town hall on Monday to discuss the results of the 2023 Campus Climate Survey.

Baicker opened with a brief summary of the results from the survey. The survey opened to students, academics, and staff in May 2023. The survey had response rates from those groups of 21 percent, 41 percent, and 42 percent, respectively. Overall, 30 percent of the University community responded to the survey.

When addressing the response rate, Baicker said, “Of course, any survey is just a snapshot in time. I’m going to talk with you about the response rate, which was not bad for a survey conducted via this mode but leaves lots of opportunity for people with different views not to be represented. So, you always want to take that with a grain of salt.”

Overall, respondents reported a slight improvement from the 2016 Climate Survey in racism, homophobia, socioeconomic status, and other dimensions. However, members of marginalized groups reported higher levels of intolerance on campus compared to the rest of the community.

Baicker emphasized that since these results were collected in May, they do not reflect any changes in campus climate due to the conflict in Gaza. “I mentioned this before, but I will say again, this was conducted in May, which is before a lot of things happened on campus and in the world in October and beyond,” Baicker said, specifically after discussing the results about tolerance of religious identity.

The bulk of the virtual town hall was focused on answering questions from attendees. When asked how the University’s data compares to peer institutions, Johnson said, “Our response rates and findings are very similar to other universities.”

This visual shows response rates to different universities’ Campus Climate surveys, broken down into rates for students, academics, and staff.

In 2018, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) conducted an Academic Climate Survey with a 39 percent response rate from students, a 49 percent response rate from staff, and a 69 percent response rate from faculty. All three of these response rates are greater than UChicago’s rates in their respective sections.

In 2021, Stanford University conducted a Campus Climate Survey with a 29 to 31 percent response rate from students, postdocs, and clinician educators; a 44 percent response rate from staff; and a 38 percent response rate from faculty. Thus, while UChicago’s response rates from staff and faculty are comparable to Stanford’s, UChicago’s student response rate still lags.

Brown University’s 2023 Climate, Diversity, and Inclusion Survey had response rates of 15 percent for undergraduate students, 62 percent for staff, and 33 percent for faculty. With the exception of the staff response rate, which is much higher, the faculty and student response rates are lower than UChicago’s.

Johnson said that he hopes engagements and activities after this webinar, such as more town halls and focus groups with students, will help increase response rates for future surveys, as well as gather more information related to the initial findings of the 2023 Climate Survey.

In the survey, respondents were asked to identify their academic or administrative unit. When asked whether more specific climate data will be provided to the heads of these units, Johnson said, “We will have to take care to make sure that no identities are compromised… We are interested and willing to extend as much as possible to help units by providing this information, and so we’ll have a period of time immediately following this webinar to begin with providing the opportunity for people to indicate that this is something that an academic or an administrator unit would like to do.”

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Naina Purushothaman, Senior News Reporter
Naina is a senior reporter with The Maroon.
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Nikhil Patel is a second-year majoring in Computational and Applied Math and Computer Science from Libertyville, Illinois. He is the Lead Developer for the Maroon's Data Team. Aside from being a huge computer nerd, he is interested in education, the environment, and free and open access to information. His main hobby is origami; if you happen to spot him in public, it’s likely that he’ll be folding a square of paper into something more interesting (usually a smaller, more complicated square of paper).
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