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The Maroon

Editorial: Campus Climate Assessment questions are invasive, unnecessary

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Photo credit: The Maroon

Photo credit: The Maroon

Photo credit: The Maroon


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At the beginning of the spring semester Father Wildes sent out an email discussing future plans to assess “Loyola’s climate,” explaining “Climate is our learning, living, and working environment.”

Students didn’t hear anything else until Oct. 3, when Interim Provost David Borofsky sent out an email with a link to a survey and a brief explanation saying it was part of the climate assessment.

Two weeks later, on Oct. 17, Honors students got an update thanks to Honors College director Naomi Yavneh. That update gave the university participation rate – a whopping 8 percent.

Why so low?

Was it apathy? A dying use of email? A pure campus disdain by the student body?

The answer is probably none of those.

One need look no further than the survey itself, which doesn’t even include the option to select psychology – psychology – as a major.

Psychology – the second-largest major on Loyola’s campus, according to the most recent University Fact Book.

And it’s not just the exclusion of this major that brings the legitimacy of this survey into question.

The survey itself felt incomplete. With all of the people on the Campus Climate Assessment Committee, it was shocking to see how so many issues with the survey overlooked.

The survey states that omitting answers for 50 percent of the questions will result in responses being discarded. If I was a psychology major filling out the survey, the question concerning my major could be the tipping point of whether or not my answers will be reviewed.

Many students also felt uncomfortable with the questions, with some seeming pretty invasive.

Just look at some.

Were you sexually assaulted? Better be ready to share all your details in the survey. Citizenship status? Your Campus Climate Committee wants to know. Parents’ education? Hey Loyola, don’t you already have this information?

So…anyone see an issue with this?

The argument administrators make is that these questions are necessary to see if people feel comfortable enough to talk about these issues.

Well, it looks like they have their answer.

Maybe, just maybe, there is such a low turnout because of invasive, unnecessary and nonsensical questions. One would think the Campus Climate Committee would have realized this and reassessed its approach by now.

But – no. Instead, a “survey party” was organized, where students could share the experience of filling out a survey for half an hour together, with food and refreshments.

And hey, while they’re at it, maybe they could discuss how an agnostic, atheist or non-spiritual person is supposed to answer the religious identity question. Side note: one of the options for this question is “secular humanist.” How many people know what that even means?

Bottom line: Loyola seems to think this survey will provide an accurate view of the campus’ vibe.

With only a tiny fraction of it answering, though, that will not be possible.

And given the nature of the questions, it should be no surprise that this survey has floated like a lead balloon with the student body.

But if you want to answer the survey, there is still time – it’s available until Nov. 3.

Unless you’re one of the 200+ psychology majors on campus, of course. And if Loyola decides to send out another survey in the future, it might be helpful to consult one of them. Maybe they could help with the questions.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Editorial: Campus Climate Assessment questions are invasive, unnecessary”

  1. M Isabel Medina on October 27th, 2017 4:03 pm

    I am looking for the short article that appeared in the print copy of the Maroon that reports that the campus climate survey is intended to gauge how students, staff and faculty experience the Loyola community regarding diversity, gender and disability oppression. Somehow your editorial lost track of that. Approximately one year and a half ago, students delivered a list of demands to the President’s office concerning the University’s failure to provide a diverse and supportive environment to students of different races and ethnicities to the majority race. Our community, perhaps, has not been fully supportive of women, particularly strong women, and the LGBT community.

    I’m surprised, therefore, to see the paper discouraging students from taking the survey, instead of encouraging them to complete it, so that the administration can gauge the seriousness of the problem on Loyola’s campus.

    It is a challenging survey. It forces us to remember, go over and recount what are painful events in our life at Loyola. But completing it may convince the University to face the challenge and take the steps necessary to make our campus a place where minority races, ethnicities, women and LGBT students, staff and faculty may thrive.

    I completed it. I hope you do too.

    [Reply]

  2. Billy Talty on November 3rd, 2017 2:01 pm

    There are some good points, but the title gets it wrong.

    This survey is not invasive because it is voluntary!

    Perhaps if it was a requirement for living on campus or for graduating, then I might agree. But request for information are not in themselves invasive to one’s privacy.

    One thing I can definitely agree with, is that this is not going to in itself give an accurate assessment of the “campus climate” (like, what the hell does that even mean).

    Personal interpretations can be useful for doing further quantitative research, but at the end of this, it is all just subjective.

    Now, I believe someone’s personal interpretation of the campus should be important for the administration (to a point). If someone feels unsafe on campus based on their age, race, sexual identity, gender, religion, political views, Etc., ad nauseam; then that is either based in a reality (actual or veiled threats or discrimination), or on a misinterpretation of reality. Either way, it should be important to figure that out and help the student process it.

    If it is based on actual threatening or discriminatory behavior by another student, faculty, guest, or staff member; that should be handled swiftly.

    Or, if it is due to the student’s lack of ability to process appropriate criticism, or their hypersensitivity of statements (being “triggered”) from past discrimination or abuse; then the Loyola community can help and encourage that student to work through their baggage; so they too can grow and be properly educated.

    However, basing policy off of student interpretation is dangerous and ignorant.

    What if student’s are more of the latter category? What if a majority of the students taking the survey are hypersensitive to criticism because they are immature or have brought with them the baggage of their past trauma; and now, they are merely misinterpreting their fellow classmates or teachers? That would not be a good foundation for which we enact draconian processes and regulations.

    Should we help those students? Yes, absolutely!

    Should we bend to them? No, not without further steps to secure that the information collected is accurately interpreted and balanced, and that further data (more quantitative studies), help prove changes are necessary.

    So, in sum, the survey is a good tool, but in itself should not guide the campus policies. I would encourage everyone, on this last day, to take the damn survey. Help balance the results. Give the admins more information to understand what the school “feels” like to different sets of people. And encourage them not to act on these feelings alone.

    Appreciate the thoughts!

    [Reply]

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Editorial: Campus Climate Assessment questions are invasive, unnecessary