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ISSUE 119 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/18/2005

Survey gauges community

By Lauren Radomski
Variety Editor

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Office of Community Life and Diversity, along with the Office of Institutional Research and Planning, has developed the Campus Climate Survey in order to gauge the opinion of the St. Olaf community on diversity and the college mission.

According to Dean of Community Life and Diversity Eida Berrio, the online survey will assess the familiarity of students, faculty and staff with St. Olaf's commitment to diversity. It will ask for an evaluation of how successful the college has been in building a diverse community, and will also measure the degree to which people feel included or excluded on the Hill.

Berrio sees the survey as a way of asking,” "What does the community think we should be doing?”"

While St. Olaf has conducted surveys on diversity in the past, these have focused primarily on race and ethnicity. Designers of the Campus Climate Survey “wanted a broader definition of diversity,” said Susan Canon, Director of Institutional Research. Therefore, the survey will also measure diversity as related to sexual orientation, religious beliefs and socio-economic status. Because the survey will be administered to the entire student body, as opposed to a random sample, all students will have the opportunity to voice their opinions.

Berrio views the Campus Climate Survey as an especially valuable resource as St. Olaf undergoes a change in leadership. "It will be “important for the new president to have a sense of what the community thinks is important,”" she said.

The Campus Climate Survey consists of several multiple choice questions as well as two open-ended questions. Berrio estimates that it takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

One section of the survey collects biographical data on the survey-taker, but keeps the his or her identity anonymous. This data will allow administrators to determine the concerns of specific sectors of the St. Olaf population.

After the survey information has been analyzed, the results will be made public to the St. Olaf community. Berrio hopes that these results will help student organizations to better serve the needs of their constituents. “"We didn't want to collect a bunch of data that we will put on a shelf,"” she said.

The Campus Climate Survey is in its final stages of development and has recently been tested by several pilot groups. Among those who have taken it is Jennifer Ho ‘'06, who completed the survey along with members of the Community Life and Diversity Commitee. “A lot of the questions brought up pertinent issues,” she said.

Ho and others from the pilot groups have provided survey administrators with feedback on the content, format, sequence and intent of survey questions.

The Campus Climate Survey will be administered shortly after students return to campus in February. Students will receive letters about the survey from the President Thomforde as well as the Dean of Students Greg Kneser, and have the opportunity to complete the survey over the course of two to three weeks.

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