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Inclusion Survey pulling in participants

Inclusion Survey pulling in participants


The response to an anonymous survey to assess how well SUNY Cortland includes campus community members in university life in light of their individual needs and differences has been good. However, the Campus Climate for Diversity Committee is hoping to get more students to participate.

An almost equal number of student and faculty/staff have participated as of Friday, Nov. 15. That means that a much greater percentage of SUNY Cortland’s faculty and staff have voiced their opinions compared to students.

For those who haven’t taken it yet, look for a reminder in this week’s campus email, which is the sole way to access the survey — save for the original email requests that went out on Nov. 4 for faculty and staff and Nov. 6 for students.

It takes about 15 minutes to complete, after which all student respondents will have their name separately entered in a drawing for prizes that include two iPads and 80 SUNY Cortland Bookstore gift cards for $25.

The survey responses are important because how students, faculty and staff feel they are being treated by others is key to their success, whether in class, the workplace or in their personal lives.

The Campus Climate for Diversity Committee currently is administering the survey for the university to measure how inclusive the campus is around race and ethnicity, gender and gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, and religion. It’s the first time since 2005 that such information has been gathered.

The committee, which designed and issued the Inclusion Survey, is trying to get many more participants in both categories to take it as a way to find out how well the university includes them in campus life in light of their individual needs and differences.

“We are working to get a high response rate from students so we can receive meaningful results,” said committee member Jeremy Zhe-Heimerman, assistant director of disability resources, who wants to include faculty from every discipline in the committee’s efforts to engage more students in taking the voluntary survey.

“You can help in these efforts by encouraging your students to fill out the survey,” said Zhe-Heimerman, who is preparing suggestions that faculty can use to get more students to share their input.

Individual participants will remain anonymous. The gathered data from their feedback will be shared with the university community and used to plan improvements in the way SUNY Cortland approaches diversity and creates a more ideal environment for excellence in academics, professional development and personal fulfillment.

Members of the SUNY Cortland Campus Climate on Diversity Committee and volunteers are continuing their efforts to increase participation at a table set up in the Old Main Dragon’s Den lobby this week.

Work on this assessment began last spring, when the committee conducted a series of focus groups to ask students, faculty and staff to express their opinions about their quality of life on campus. That work helped guide then through the summer and the early fall, as the committee developed the survey.

SUNY Cortland is committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in higher education. Building on previously gathered data, historical documents and the university’s extensive efforts thus far, a comprehensive climate assessment will provide the campus with research-based and comprehensive findings. These will guide the development of strategic initiatives and action planning to build on institutional successes and address institutional inclusivity challenges.

For more information, contact James Felton III, chief diversity officer or another member of the Campus Climate on Diversity Committee: Michael Baker, assistant director of residential life for technology and marketing; Stephen Cunningham, director of institutional research and assessment; Imani Hinckson, student volunteer; Jeffrey Jackson, instructor of English; Yomee Lee, professor of kinesiology and Africana studies; Christopher Ortega, assistant professor of communication and media studies and Africana studies; Amy Russell, professional tutor, The Learning Center; Ronnie Silver ’67, SUNY Cortland Alumni Association liaison; Jennifer Wilson, associate director of communications; Melanie Woodward, associate director of human resources and affirmative action officer; and Jeremy Zhe-Heimerman, assistant director of disability resources, Disability Resources Office.