22 April 2011

Purdue Diversity Assessment

Purdue's Diversity assessment was just brought to my attention (http://www.purdue.edu/ethics/contribute_pdf_docs/2007_diversity_assessment_000.pdf and bolding is my emphasis). Honestly, I am surprised nobody brought this to my attention earlier, but I guess that was because it would have been useful in pushing for a change. People might be surprised that people, on a survey, actually exposed what they might be uncomfortable with! Here are some reasons why I say that:


"Staff
Staff reported being very comfortable interacting with individuals from the eight different groups (more than 94% rated agreement or strong agreement that they were comfortable), with one exception. Although still very high in absolute terms, comfort levels were lower for interacting with someone different in sexual orientation. Given the number of respondents describing themselves as heterosexual in this sample (90.5%), this finding likely indicates less comfort interacting with GLBT individuals, regardless of whether they are a co-worker (87.1%) or one’s supervisor (84.7%)." (Diversity)

13-15% of staff surveyed would be uncomfortable with people who are GLBT? Really?! I think that alone should be a prime example of why we need better administrative support and reporting procedures. But wait, there is more!

"Faculty
Faculty members reported being very comfortable interacting with individuals from the eight different groups (percentages of agreement all in the upper 90s), with one exception. Comfort levels were lower for interacting with someone different in sexual orientation. As with staff, the high number of self-identified heterosexuals in the sample (95.5%) probably indicates respondents were less comfortable interacting with GLBT individuals, regardless of whether they are a co-worker (89.9%) or supervisor (88.2%). Still, these percentages remained high, in absolute terms." (Diversity)

10-12% of faculty surveyed would be less comfortable working with people based on their sexual orientation! One more category to go:


"Students
Students also described themselves as very comfortable interacting with individuals from the eight different groups (percentages of agreement all around 90%) with two exceptions. First, the percentage of students agreeing that they feel comfortable was lower for sexual orientation. Given the number of students who identified themselves as heterosexual in this sample (96.3%), this finding likely shows less comfort interacting with GLBT individuals, whether as a classmate (78.8%) or as an instructor (77.7%). Second, the percentage of students agreeing that they feel comfortable is lower for disability status. Given the number of students in this sample describing themselves as having no disabilities (97.3%), lower rates of comfort probably reflects somewhat fewer respondents being comfortable interacting with people with disabilities as a classmate (88%) or as an instructor (87.7%)." (Diversity)

That is like 22-23% being uncomfortable! That is over 1/5th of the student population based on these numbers. To make matters worse, LGBTQ individuals aren't to only ones. People with disabilities are also looking at 12-13% of the students who are uncomfortable working with them!

What is worse is I am kind of going easy with you on these numbers. They get worse. Go to the section about harassment and discrimination. Only 66.6% of staff say they have NOT experienced discrimination, and only 54.5% say they have NOT witnessed harassment! Faculty report worse numbers yet with only 57.1% NOT experiencing harassment. Only 40.5% of students are NOT concerned with being discriminated against. So wait, Almost 60% of our students are worried they may be discriminated against?! That is clearly a huge problem! I realize there are a number of categories here, but that doesn't sound good for saying we have an inclusive environment!

To sum it all up for this report, let's jump to the key findings, where we can find that, "Moreover, approximately one-half of the students report witnessing discrimination or harassment largely on the basis of race/ethnicity and sexual orientation" (Diversity). Clearly there is a problem on campus.

The question, then, is whether or not anybody with a voice notices. If nobody calls Purdue out on it, it is clear they won't do anything. But wait! People have. Not just Joe Shmoe either, but the Accreditation Report mentions the problem (http://www.purdue.edu/accreditation/PDF_Files/PurdReportMay062010.pdf and bolding is my emphasis)! Let's just look the section entitled "Aspects of Diversity":

"Purdue University should continue to make concerted efforts to advance a diverse and inclusive learning environment by integrating cultural competencies into the core curriculum and other learning opportunities across the institution; providing support for centers and other resources for underrepresented racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, gender and sexual orientation groups; partnering with community leaders to create an inclusive climate for diverse faculty and staff; tracking the progress of diverse students; and establishing or strengthening pipelines from various regional communities to the campus.
Attention to Lesbian, Gay Bisexual,Transgender (LGBT) issues were not well represented in the self study nor in conversations team members had on campus. When asked, campus representatives acknowledged the lack of organized and visible support for the LGBT community. A fully inclusive university would embrace the LGBT community and enhance the lives of all of its constituents.
Finally, as the nation experiences rapid growth among Latinos and retirements by the Baby Boomers, the economy will face major labor market changes. Latinos are projected to increase from 15% of the population to 30% and Latino youth are projected to surpass the number of White youth by mid-century. As the same time, they are one of the most marginalized and undereducated population segments in the nation. Taken together, these shifts present a major challenge for the nation, and Purdue University, like other institutions must begin to consider its role in addressing this challenge. In the current context, Purdue has to continue to embrace the important role that a public research university of this stature has in advancing educational opportunity and equity for all students." (Accredited)

Oh look, the people responsible for Purdue's accreditation notes it doing very poorly with LGBTQ issues. Purdue, we got a lot of work done this year. We got gender identity and gender expression added to the Nondiscrimination Policy. We got single-use bathrooms on academic campus updated. We got your survey's fixed. We moved you closer to online discrimination and harassment reporting (hopefully that can also get numbers on non-persecutory offenses like yelling from cars). We got the first university recognized National Coming Out Day celebration and will soon have the second Lavender Graduation. A foundation has even been laid for a strong safe zone program. But let's jump to the chase. Can you just do us all a favor (that includes yourself, Purdue) and finally hire a Director of LGBTQ Affairs? Somebody who can focus on these issues so the students don't have to keep doing it. Vice President Exum wants to make it happen, at least the last zillion times I have talked to her. Give her the power to do it. Please. For all our sake? If you want numbers, if you want an important group saying we need it, you have it. If you will keep being stubborn the students are going to keep moving on you. We might have high turnover but we are picking up steam and have fixed some continuity issues. The advice from IU is that you need stories. If stories are what you need, we will deliver.

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