Talking about tough topics

Student survey on sexual violence, diversity and inclusion launches Feb. 19 in quest to ensure welcoming campus

Sara Kaiser and Donna Smith

UND’s Sara Kaiser (left) and Donna Smith are heading up a student survey, which launches Feb. 19, on demographics, sexual violence, and diversity and inclusion. The more students respond, they say, the richer and more useful the information will be. Photo by Tyler Ingham/UND Today.

What does UND do well? And what could be better?

A new student survey seeks to discover students’ perceptions and experiences with diversity and inclusion as well as sexual violence.

Those are tough topics to talk about.

“We’re doing the survey because students have experiences and opinions that they don’t share with us,” said Donna Smith, director of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action. “We want to know what issues and concerns are important so we can address them as a campus community. Students can give feedback in a way that’s safe for them and informative for us.”

Launching from Feb. 19 to March 12, the survey is an action item for Goal 5 (foster a welcoming, safe and inclusive campus climate) of the UND Strategic Plan.  A link to the survey will arrive in an email from Cara Halgren, vice president for student affairs and diversity and captain of Goal 5, to all degree-seeking students. That includes full time, part time, professional, law, medicine, undergraduate, graduate, on campus and online students.

Listening to students

“We want students to feel heard,” said Halgren. “It’s important to do the survey in light of our responsibilities to the strategic plan and Goal 5. We want hear from students about their experiences in order to determine the best approaches to make the campus safer.”

“Cultivating the ability of all our students to engage with an increasingly diverse workplace is essential for them to be tomorrow’s leaders in action,” said President Kennedy. “This survey will help guide our programming to achieve this goal.”

The survey has three parts, said Sara Kaiser, assistant director of student rights & responsibilities and a member of UND’s Committee on Sexual Violence Prevention and Response, which initiated the survey.

It will focus on demographics, sexual violence, and diversity and inclusion. And the more students respond, she said, the richer the information.

Survey incentives

They’re hoping for a large student response.

“If more students complete the survey, we will get richer, more in-depth information,” said Kaiser. “The results will help guide our work on fostering a more inclusive campus.”

She said she hopes faculty and staff will encourage students to complete the survey, which has been approved by the Institutional Review Board. It is completely anonymous.

Students who complete the survey can enter to win one of three $1000 scholarships, or gift cards to Amazon, Dining Services and Starbucks.

National survey

Cara Halgren

Cara Halgren

The survey will be developed and administered by the Education Advisory Board, which has conducted similar surveys for higher education institutions across the nation.

There are advantages to using EAB, said Kaiser. Because UND is a member of the organization, the survey will be administered and results will be compiled as a part of our institutional membership dues.

“EAB is a reputable, well-respected organization with a survey instrument that has been used and validated,” said Smith. “It will allow comparison information with similar schools.”

EAB will provide data analysis, an executive summary, guidelines, and compare UND to 10 peer institutions, said Kaiser. The data will be shared on the vice president for student affairs and diversity web site at the end of June.

“The goal is to help us see what we do well to support a safe and inclusive environment, and narrow and prioritize our focus to impact students and ensure a positive experience,” said Kaiser. “The survey is not a magic switch. We hope it provides a roadmap of high impact responses to make UND a more positive environment and to learn where to focus our time, energy and resources.”

“We want to tell students that this is your university and your experience is important to us,” said Smith. “If there are gaps in services, support or programs, we want to hear about that so we can make this the University students want.”