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May 29, 2006

Preliminary diversity survey results presented

By Jennifer McNulty

More than 5,000 people responded to the recent campuswide web survey about diversity, gratifying organizers who say 82 percent of respondents report that the term diversity is meaningful to them.

Photo: Gina Dent with students
Gina Dent, right, chats with undergraduates after the session.
Photo: Jennifer McNulty

"Even with all the cynical comments about diversity language, there is a lot of unanimity about this," said Gina Dent, associate professor of feminist studies and a member of the Academic Senate's Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity (CAAD), which administered the survey.

Survey respondents weighed in on everything from hiring and promotional practices to curriculum planning. Dent and fellow CAAD members discussed preliminary findings during a two-hour session May 15 that drew a gathering of about 40 people. Joining Dent were Manuel Pastor, professor of Latin American and Latino studies, Herbert Lee, assistant professor of applied math and statistics, and Neferti Tadiar, associate professor of history of consciousness.

Preliminary results reveal divisional differences in satisfaction with diversity on campus, strong support across campus for ethnic studies, and a hierarchical structure that limits opportunities for staff advancement.

Survey organizers were gratified by the response to the 241-question survey, which is the culmination of a yearlong exploration of the diversity climate at UCSC.

The response rate among both faculty and staff was 34 percent, while 27 percent of graduate students and 23 percent of undergraduates responded. CAAD will issue its final report to the campus by the end of spring quarter and plans to announce recommendations and plans for implementation in the fall. "The report is just a beginning," emphasized Dent.

Faculty in the Physical and Biological Sciences Division (PBSci), who make up 28 percent of faculty on campus, represented only 14 percent of survey respondents. Engineering faculty comprise 12 percent of campus faculty but only 7 percent of respondents. By comparison, social sciences faculty make up 28 percent of faculty and represented 31 percent of respondents; humanities faculty make up 18 percent and comprised 30 percent of respondents; and arts faculty make up 12 percent and were 16 percent of respondents.

The preliminary findings revealed that staff tend to think about diversity as a matter of increasing racial representation, while faculty and students use the word more broadly to refer to areas of intellectual pursuit, identity beyond racial categories, and notions of power, equality, and "minoritization."

Staff, however, face the "most serious diversity problem" on campus, said Dent, referring to the relatively low number of women of color employed on campus, the concentration of white men in senior management jobs, and the clustering of Latinos in lower-level food, custodial, and grounds jobs. "We need to look at staff first. Staff create the environment on campus."

Within units and departments, faculty and staff report high levels of satisfaction with diversity, "but we didn't see the same satisfaction about the campus as a whole," said Dent. Faculty diversity is important to undergraduates, who are generally satisfied with events on campus, according to the preliminary findings. More than 80 percent of respondents agreed that some colleges are more welcoming to students of color than others, said Dent.

Pastor noted "huge gaps between faculty of color and white faculty" regarding perceptions of whether faculty of color have to prove themselves more than their white counterparts. Among all faculty, 52 percent have thought about leaving UCSC, with rates highest among African American and Latino faculty members.

Campuswide, nearly 60 percent of full professors are white men, and there are no women of color among faculty in top leadership positions, according to CAAD's findings. Retention of faculty of color may be an issue, noted Tadiar: "We may be hiring them at the assistant professor level, but they're not showing up at the senior faculty and senior faculty leadership levels."

Respondents consider UCSC a "queer friendly" campus, with a strong majority expressing broad comfort with people of different sexual orientations. The survey also revealed a strong sense of belonging among those who identify themselves as gay, and high levels of satisfaction with the campus atmosphere among those who identify themselves as lesbian, bisexual, and queer.

The cost of living and workload issues emerged as themes in the survey's open-ended sections, but Dent emphasized that "there are significant things that could change" before any money is invested, including adopting "best practices" to increase the diversity of job applicants and doing more outreach at the "front end" of recruitments.

CAAD members are considering developing recommendations in several areas, including hiring. They are weighing strategies to promote diversity within the academic structure, as well, including accountability measures for units, departments, divisions, and deans, consideration of diversity in grievance and evaluation procedures, and establishment of ethnic studies on campus.

They also endorsed models they consider successful, including diversity initiatives for faculty hiring, student outreach and retention programs, and entities such as the Latin American and Latino Studies Department, Chicano/Latino Research Center, Center for Justice, Tolerance, and Community, Center for Cultural Studies, and the Women of Color Research Cluster.

CAAD members also suggest increasing the physical spaces on campus where diversity initiatives can be pursued, including resource centers, themed dorms and colleges, and space in the Quarry area.

Finally, they recommend further study of disability issues and compensation (particularly of staff), and they suggest that the study should be repeated at regular intervals to generate data for comparison.

The web survey followed a series of public forums last fall during which members of the campus community were invited to discuss diversity and offer input regarding survey content. About 400 surveys were administered to those without regular access to computers.

CAAD's goal has been to "talk without unit boundaries" about diversity, to document practices and centralize data, and to "collectively build a more integrated framework for understanding diversity," said Dent.

Related link:
UC President’s Task Force on Faculty Diversity offers recommendations

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