What’s the Racial Climate on Campus? Answer May Depend on Your Race

Overall, survey finds Hilbert is welcoming. A majority of black students say it’s “just okay.”

By Amanda Snyder

A Spring 2015 Cultural Climate Survey found a majority of Hilbert’s African American students and a majority of staff and faculty agree that there are racial and interracial conflicts on campus.

Town Hall Forum

“The Politics of Hate”

Tuesday March 1 

3:15 PM

Swan Auditorium

Panelists: Yvonne Downes, Kush Haq, Jeff Papia, Megan Witzleben


Most respondents to the survey – which was open to all students and staff — stated that Hilbert College is a welcoming and inclusive campus. Indeed, 96.5% of the campus community believes that Hilbert College “creates an overall positive cultural environment for faculty, staff, and students,” according to the survey’s executive summary.

But further evaluation of survey results reads that over 30 percent of survey takers believe there is racial conflict and tension across the campus, as seen by both students and faculty members. Diving a little deeper, one would also notice that 56.3 percent who were African American disagreed with the statement that “there is no racial/interracial tension on campus.”

When asked if there is a high level of respect for diversity on Hilbert’s campus, there is a significant difference in student responses of those who are African American and those who are white. This led data to read that the majority of white students see Hilbert College as a positive environment, whereas African Americans responded that the campus is “just okay.”

The survey results were highlighted by the Provost Advisory Committee for Diversity (PACD). The committee conducted a survey to evaluate the progress of diversity and inclusion on campus for students and staff members of all backgrounds. Three hundred forty-seven students, along with 64 faculty and staff, participated. This survey that was administered is the second Cultural Climate Survey to be given at Hilbert College. A similar survey was assessed in the spring of 2011 by the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Survey of 2011 reported a need for Hilbert to implement diversity improvements across campus, thus initiating PACD. Both surveys were used to understand the experiences of students, faculty and staff.

In an interview in February, Hilbert President Cynthia Zane said the work of making all students feel a sense of inclusion is ongoing. She pointed to monthly events held this school year that give her and others in the administration an opportunity to listen directly to students and their concerns.

One thing Zane said needs to be looked at is the timeline involved for handling disciplinary situations where race is involved. But she said changes can’t happen overnight, and not all changes can be imposed by the administration.

For example, Zane said, including more academic offerings related to diversity would involve working closely with the faculty, who ultimately decide whether to add classes to Hilbert’s course catalog.

On Tuesday, March 1, all students and staff are welcome to a Town Hall Forum called “The Politics of Hate.” The panelists include Yvonne Down, PH.D., Kush Haq, PH.D., Jeff Papia, MTA, and Megan Witzleben, PH.D. The discussion starts at 3:15 in Swan Auditorium.

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