Climate Survey Asks Campus Community for Input in “Building a Home for All”

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Students walking on the quad

Rockhurst University’s leaders are committed to “Building a Home for All.” But they can’t do it alone.

Starting Tuesday, Oct. 10, students, faculty, staff and contract employees at Rockhurst and students at Research College of Nursing are being asked to take a 15-30-minute survey online at www.rockhurst.edu/campusclimate as part of a comprehensive study being conducted of the “campus climate” by Rankin and Associates Consulting, a firm that has conducted similar assessments of hundreds of colleges and universities, including other Jesuit higher education institutions.

What is “campus climate?” Rankin and Associate’s study looks at the attitudes, the behaviors, standards and practices of the University community through the personal experiences and perceptions of those surveyed and the efforts of the institution itself.

It’s a process that started last academic year, when Rankin and Associates first began interviewing members of the University community in focus groups about their experiences here and gathering opinions on how Rockhurst can continue to take steps, through policy and programming, toward becoming a more inclusive place for all people.

“We want to hear from everybody about how to create a safe campus for all,” said Rocio De la Rosa Duncan, Ph.D., professor of Spanish and co-chair of the committee overseeing the study. “That doesn’t mean that we are always going to agree with everybody, but rather creating an environment where we respect each other.”

According to Ellen Spake, Ph.D., assistant to the president for mission and ministry and the committee’s other co-chair, looking for ways to improve campus inclusivity for future generations of Hawks is more than a good thing to do for goodwill — she said the effort is inspired by the Jesuit core values.

“Whether that is taking care of every person, or “cura personalis,” or striving for more, as with “magis”, you can see those values in this process,” she said. “We are called to reflection and discernment in everything we do as a University. This study is our opportunity to do that.”

For that reflection and discernment to really work, Spake and Duncan said they encourage as many people to take the survey as possible and to be honest in their assessment of the climate on campus. The survey is anonymous and is tailored to the individual’s experience as faculty, staff or a student. Spake said the results will go straight to Rankin and Associates, who will keep the responses confidential as they sort through the data after the survey closes on Nov. 10. They are expected to present their findings to the committee and University leadership in May 2018. Results will be shared in open sessions for faculty, staff and students in fall 2018.

“People should feel safe and free to be honest,” Duncan said.

Even well before those final results are revealed, Spake said some changes are already being made based on the responses from the focus group meetings. Among them is the addition of more speakers, panels and workshops designed to foster inclusivity among faculty, staff and students and new programs aimed at giving different student populations a better chance of success at RU.

Those programs are wide-reaching and the survey is open to everyone in the campus community because, as Duncan said, creating a more inclusive campus is not just for students — it’s for everyone. And to help in that goal, those who fill out the survey are eligible to enter their name in a drawing for an incentive:

  • Students: Semester of free parking OR $100 Visa gift card
  • Faculty: Semester of free parking OR $100 Visa gift card
  • Staff: Semester of free parking OR one vacation day

The campus climate page on the Rockhurst University website contains more information about why the study is important, some frequently asked questions about the process, and a link to the survey itself.