Administrators react to diversity survey results

Leah Brown

One of WKU’s focuses is teaching its students the values and importance of diversity.

Last spring, the Diversity Enhancement Committee emailed a “Student Campus Climate Diversity Survey” to all WKU students. This comprehensive survey asked a variety of questions about how students felt toward diversity in and outside their classrooms.

“We really needed to know what were our students views and perceptions,” Richard Miller, chief diversity officer, said. “We decided this was something we needed to do.”

Miller asked faculty member and psychological scientist, Betsy Shoenfelt, to develop the survey as well as analyze the results.

Slightly less than 1,000 students completed the survey and four random students who participated received a $500 scholarship as an incentive, Miller said.

There were more than 100 questions. The survey took a half hour to complete.

The results were compiled and analyzed over the summer and will be released sometime within the next two weeks.

“Students need to know what were the outcomes of the survey,” Miller said.

Shoenfelt said one thing she found interesting in the results was that students would claim they were aware of the issues different diversity groups faced, but individuals in the aforementioned different diversity groups believed others were not aware of their issues.

According to Miller, other universities conduct similar surveys. Usually schools send out the survey every three to five years, though WKU had not done one in about nine years.

“It is important for administrators to have a sense of how students feel about a broad range of issues related to diversity,” Miller said. “Overall, the comments about our international population was positive.”

However, Miller said there were some responses that expressed concern.

“When it comes to being comfortable and understanding alternate lifestyles…there are a fair number of students that are still very uncomfortable accepting and understanding that component on our campus community,” Miller said. “We’re seeing evidence of that.”

He said that it is clear WKU will have to give students more opportunities to learn about diversity through seminars and workshops.

“Students said they would like to have more diversity events on campus to experience more diversity,” Shoenfelt said.