Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, November 18, 2017

AU leaves students in the dark with campus climate survey results

Administrators must be more transparent with the 2017 campus climate survey

AU leaves students in the dark with campus climate survey results

Administrators released results of an internal campus climate survey completed in 2017. Among the results: 34 percent of black students said they felt AU was "committed" to creating a campus community where everyone has a sense of belonging. 

American University has once again completed its biannual campus climate survey. If this is the first you are hearing of said survey, don’t worry, because you’re not alone.

Administrators conducted a survey of random students in the Spring of 2017, compiled the data and released some of that information to the public at an Oct. 19 meeting. The results revealed a sour insight into the campus climate, indicating that only 34 percent of African-American students answered “almost always” or “most of the time” to the question “is American University committed to creating a campus community where everyone has a sense of belonging?”

While the data the University released was exceptionally damning, it is a fragment of the information collected from the survey. When questioned why they would release only a portion of the results, AU’s Assistant Vice President of Communications Camille Lepre declined to answer.

In fact, had it not been for the efforts of SG President Taylor Dumpson, the University likely would not have released the data at all. The Eagle commends Dumpson on her advocacy at the September town hall meeting and her resolve in fighting for the release of the results. Withholding information is not only a detriment to students, it is a blatant contradiction of transparency.

The administration owes it to campus community to release the full results of the survey. The data might be damaging, but AU needs to face the criticism. A solution will never be achieved if the administration closes the door on its students. The Eagle staff finds severe fault in the lack of transparency from AU, and have found numerous flaws in their methods.

The survey does not recycle its questions. How can the University create a baseline of information if the data is inconsistent from survey to survey? Certainly, no comparison can be made from information that is collected haphazardly, especially when information is withheld from the public.

Data needs to be collected yearly, openly and loudly. Too often, students miss out on the survey because AU only publicizes it through email. As a study that plays a role in the decision-making of the University, students need to be made aware of its occurrence — which should be annual. Two years is too great of a span between surveys, as the climate on campus changes quickly.

The Eagle staff would also like to note that the survey was completed April 30, the day before bananas were hung from nooses. So, although the results are already grim, they do not reflect the context of the racist incidents have occurred since then. An annual survey would reflect those incidents more accurately.

Yet, none of that matters if the results are not made public. Without the complete transparency of the administration, students are left in the dark. Until the full and unfiltered results of the survey are released to the public, student trust in our university administration will continue to falter.

-E

opinion@theeagleonline.com


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