female, and disabled students, and eight percent of Hispanic students disagreed.
At many institutions, a significant number of students voiced their preference to have greater numbers of minority faculty and staff. For example, at one campus, approximately 25 percent of the students thought that the college staff and faculty did not adequately reflect the cross-cultural composition of the student body. Nearly 50 percent of minority students agreed they would be more comfortable if faculty and staff were more diverse.
One college asked students about whether the campus climate was conducive to positive relations between students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Over 79 percent of students agreed that the campus supported the cultural and racial diversity of all students. In addition, approximately 85 percent of students agreed that students respected each other.
Students at one college reported that student organizations were instrumental in creating a positive racial climate. Seventy-two percent of students at another college indicated that having more multicultural inclusive social activities was important to them. Furthermore, 78 percent noted that these organizations were important for a more diversity-friendly campus climate.
The majority of students from underrepresented groups expressed positive attitudes about each of the campus climate components discussed in this report. For example, the majority of students expressed positive opinions about faculty behavior and how faculty treated all students equally. Students favorably viewed the campus racial climate and expressed positive opinions about the importance of social interaction among students from all backgrounds. Also, a large percentage of students expressed improvement in their attitudes towards different racial/ethnic groups since first attending college. Each of these components plays a role in creating a diversity friendly campus, which is so important in enhancing the educational experience of all students.
However, it would be unrealistic to think that campuses are without problems. Significant percentages of underrepresented students had less than favorable opinions about their campus climate, and, in particular, about the racial climate. Students expressed concern over disparate treatment by faculty and, in some instances, by campus staff. Many expressed opinions about the presence of racial conflict on campus and of being targets of disparaging remarks. All this leads to an unhealthy environment that benefits no one and degrades the educational experience.
These findings are general statewide observations made from individual institutional reports. Each institution has its own unique campus climate with its own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. This exercise afforded each institution the opportunity to identify their areas of strength and weakness and plan a course of action to address them. Institutions should take advantage of student input when addressing campus climate. Campuses should be proactive in asking students to voice their concerns about race/ethnicity issues, as well as other issues important to their collegiate experience.
Three results of this climate survey reinforce the importance of ongoing statewide policy initiatives in Illinois higher education. First, it is clear that underrepresented students are strongly concerned about questions of college affordability. The state’s longstanding commitment to need-based student financial aid and the Monetary Award Program, the second largest program in
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