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MU diversity survey launches, expectations of responses mixed

Friday, April 6, 2012 | 3:22 p.m. CDT; updated 5:06 p.m. CDT, Friday, April 6, 2012

COLUMBIA — MU faculty, staff and students will get a chance to weigh in on the issue of diversity in the latest campus climate survey.

The 2012 survey has been made available via email and was distributed this week as a part of the Chancellor's Diversity Initiative. The email provides a link to the survey and participants may only respond once.

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The survey will touch on issues of harassment and the atmosphere on campus, as well as the satisfaction level with the university's efforts to enhance the quality of diversity on campus, said Roger L. Worthington, director of the MU Campus Climate Research Program.

"The design of the research is to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses," Worthington said. The university may then use the information to create new policy and practices.

Research shows that frequency and quality of interaction among those with different backgrounds enhances the quality of the educational environment, he said.

A survey in 2001 prompted the university to re-include sexual orientation in a nondiscrimination clause, Worthington said.

Extensive MU surveys taken from 2001 to 2005 showed that majority and minority groups perceived the campus climate differently. Minority populations indicated a less positive experience due to not feeling accepted and issues of harassment.

"Extensive agreement among participants from different groups that visible racial-ethnic groups, non-native English speakers and LGBT individuals were the least accepted groups on campus," according to a summary of the survey.

Ana Gutierrez-Gamez, president of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization at MU, said that such surveys are good to a certain extent, but she doesn't believe many students will respond.

"I don't think the average student thinks these issues apply to them. Or they don't think that the issues are necessarily problems anymore," Gutierrez-Gamez said.

Struby Struble, LGBTQ Resource Center coordinator, emphasized the need for a diversity requirement as part of the academic course load. She said the survey will help explain why it's an important and necessary step to take as an institution.

"Diversity is a part of our experience. The survey will show how diversity is woven into all aspects of our lives at Mizzou," Struble said.


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