Campus Climate Survey talk raises temperatures on campus


Zoe Montague, Co-Editor-in-Chief

A standing room only crowd in Neville’s Kuhne auditorium expressed alarm to hear the statistic that 69 percent of Black/African-American students reported experiencing racially based prejudice on PC’s campus– just one of the findings presented at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s 2019 Campus Climate Survey presentation.

“African-American students are significantly more likely to say that they have felt isolated or ‘out of place’ on campus,” Dr. Erin McAdams, associate professor of Political Science, reported, adding that 20.6% reported that bias incidents occurred “often or very often.”

Alongside this survey—conducted last April by Dr. Booker Ingram, chair of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and analyzed by McAdams and Dr. Sarah Burns, associate professor of Psychology—students received an official administration response to recent disciplinary actions sparked by a bias incident committed by the Kappa Alpha Order chapter

Surveys of this sort have been conducted at colleges and universities around the nation since a presidential initiative in 2014, Ingram explained. 

“We want to improve students, we want to retain students, we want to graduate students,” Ingram said. “We want to build an environment in which everyone is welcome and everyone is respected.”

McAdams walked students through the results of the analysis, noting that the ratio of white students to students with minority or international status is currently at about 72 to 28, the most diverse in PC’s history. 

This shift has come with growing pains. 

“The participants in last year’s survey indicated that the primary source of incidents of discrimination was other students,” McAdams said. “61% said they had seen or heard bias or discrimination from other students last year, compared to 25% who said they had heard it from faculty, staff, administrator or campus police.” 

According to McAdams, “One out of every 13 students said they would consider leaving PC and transferring to another institution specifically because of bias or discrimination.”

The survey said, “The vast majority of undergraduate respondents (76%) say they feel ‘satisfied with the sense of community’ on campus.” Groups that reported dissatisfaction included Black/African-American students, international students and students with special needs. These three groups reported statistically significant results of bias or discrimination, even though the analysis included many different identity groups, including religion and political orientation. 

In other interesting findings, the survey reported a shift toward first generation students. “Of the 2018-19 incoming class, 36 percent of our students had at least one parent who had not gone to college,” McAdams said. 

On the bias front, however, fraternity court was reported as the No. 1 place where such incidents occurred. McAdams explained, “We did not ask who or what at Fraternity Court was engaging in this kind of behavior…however, in the open ended responses, there was only one fraternity that was singled out.” She later went on to say that the fraternity that was mentioned was Kappa Alpha Order.