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Highlights of the Results of the 2006 CU-Boulder
Campus Climate Survey

The CU-Boulder Campus Climate Survey asks students about their level of comfort on the campus and in the community; whether they feel they fit in and are welcome here; and their experiences with stereotyping and negative remarks and behaviors directed toward others. Samples of 1,581 undergraduate and 415 graduate students were invited to participate in the survey. Students of color and international students were oversampled to allow us to report results for these groups separately. Overall, 29% of sampled students completed the Web-based questionnaire (404 undergraduates, 166 graduates).

Results are described below for the entire campus and for racial/ethnic, gender, and class standing (i.e., undergraduate and graduate) subgroups. In addition, separate results are provided for students with disabilities, international students, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) students. This section also contains an overview of results from prior Climate and Community Surveys, and a brief discussion of results pertaining to students' most important group identities, as reported on the questionnaire.

Campuswide Results

        Overall, students rate the campus as friendly and welcoming. A majority of both undergraduate and graduate students report that CU-Boulder is friendly, both inside and outside of the classroom environment. Nearly half or more of both undergraduates and graduates report feeling welcome, valued, and supported. Nearly 80% report feeling accepted either "often" or "very often.

        Students are generally comfortable in class and rate the classroom environment favorably. Approximately 80% of both undergraduate and graduate students report that they are comfortable being in class. A majority of students (about two-thirds) report that diversity is accepted in the classroom. Two-thirds of graduate students and over 80% of undergraduates report that the classroom environment is civil. Very few (less than 7%) report that it is racist or sexist. In contrast, students view the outside-classroom campus environment less favorably than they do the inside-classroom environment, with less than half of both undergraduates and graduates saying that CU-Boulder is accepting of diversity outside the classroom.

        Faculty value diversity. Over 80% of both undergraduates and graduates indicate that faculty value diversity. Students report that they very seldom hear faculty make disparaging remarks directed toward others.

More information on campuswide results

Results by Race/Ethnicity

        Students in different racial/ethnic groups view the climate similarly. In general, there are no large discrepancies among racial/ethnic groups (including international students) in their survey responses. At both the undergraduate and graduate levels, most groups indicate that the CU-Boulder climate is welcoming, friendly, and accepting of diversity.

        African-American students rate the campus and the Boulder community less favorably. Although overall satisfaction among African-American undergraduate students is high and they generally feel accepted, welcome, and supported on campus, their ratings are somewhat lower than those of other undergraduate racial/ethnic groups. African-American undergraduate students also perceive less favorable conditions in the larger Boulder community. They report lower levels of comfort in several community settings, most notably shopping or eating at restaurants in Boulder and looking for a place to rent in Boulder.

        African-American and Hispanic students report hearing derogatory remarks more often. Derogatory remarks made by faculty about racial/ethnic minorities are rare. Among undergraduate students, African Americans and Hispanics generally report hearing such remarks more often than do students in the other groups.  Unfortunately, derogatory remarks made by students are much more commonly reported by all students. Once again, African-American and Hispanic/Latino undergraduates generally report hearing such remarks more often than do other undergraduate students; and Hispanic/Latino, African-American, and Asian-American students generally report hearing such remarks more often than do white, Native American, and international students.

More information on results by race/ethnicity

Results by Gender

        Men and women have similar perspectives concerning the campus climate. Overall, there are few differences between the genders in their survey responses, with both reporting that they have had quite positive experiences at CU-Boulder and in the community at large. The greatest divergence in their responses pertains to how likely they say they are to challenge derogatory remarks and/or behavior. In all cases, women report that they are more likely than men to challenge such remarks and/or behavior.

Women's and men's ratings of campus climate, both inside and outside of the classroom are generally positive, with higher ratings for in-classroom than outside-classroom climate. Women report more often hearing students make disparaging remarks about others, including women, people with strong religious beliefs, non-English speakers, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons.

Results by Class Standing

        Undergraduates and graduates have similar climate perspectives. In general, there are not many differences in reports of campus climate between graduate and undergraduate students. Both groups report moderate to high levels of comfort in various social and academic settings. The most noteworthy discrepancy between undergraduates and graduates is in their ratings of how comfortable they would feel in class or interacting with faculty. Graduate students report somewhat greater comfort which could reflect, to some extent, the nature of the relationship between graduate students and faculty, which is often more personalized, with more frequent interactions both in and out of the classroom.

More information on results by gender and class standing

Results for International Students

        International students' experiences are positive, but have declined over time. International students' experiences at the university and within the Boulder community are quite positive. They report high levels of comfort in academic and social settings, and report that they are comfortable interacting with faculty, expressing their views in class, and participating in social activities, both on campus and in the Boulder community. They rarely feel disconnected or left out of campus life. However, over time, international students' ratings of how comfortable they would feel expressing views in class, participating in campus ethnic/cultural activities, living in the residence halls, and challenging derogatory remarks noticeably declined, as did their ratings of how comfortable they would feel hanging out on the Hill.

        Some differences exist among international student subgroups. Among the subgroups of international students, Southeast Asian students (i.e., those from India, Mongolia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand) and European Union students seem to be more positive about the CU-Boulder campus climate, whereas  East Asian students (i.e., those from China, Japan, Republic of Korea, and Taiwan) seem to be less positive. East Asian students are somewhat less comfortable in some social settings; in particular, shopping and eating in Boulder, participating in campus social life, and looking for a place to rent in Boulder.

All international student groups say they are quite comfortable being in class and interacting with faculty. Although all subgroups of students report hearing very few disparaging remarks from faculty, East Asian students typically report hearing such remarks more often than do U.S. students and other international students.

More information on results for international students

Over-Time Comparisons of Prior Climate and Community Surveys

        Fall 2006 marked the second administration of the CU-Boulder campus climate survey. The first was in fall 2001. In 1994 and 1998 a community survey was administered to assess the campus climate. The community survey differs from the climate survey in that it focused primarily on race/ethnicity.

        There are few changes overall in undergraduates' climate ratings over time. Students in all four survey administrations give substantially similar ratings of the campus environment, the extent to which they feel welcome and comfortable, and the situation for themselves and for all students.

        African-American undergraduates' ratings show the greatest change. Though there is little change overall, among all the racial/ethnic groups, African-American undergraduates show the greatest change, in both positive and negative directions. African-American students report feeling more accepted in 2001 and 2006, compared with 1994 and 1998. They also report being more comfortable in 2001 and 2006 being in class and interacting with faculty outside of class. However, African-American students' ratings of "UCB as a place to be" noticeably declined between 2001 and 2006, as did their perceptions of the social climate both inside and outside the classroom. In addition, African-American students were also somewhat more likely to report in 2006 that they felt different and overwhelmed.

        As was the case for undergraduates, graduate students' rating of the campus climate showed little change from 2001 to 2006. In general, students report having had quite positive experiences at UCB and in the community at large.

More information on over-time comparisons

Most Important Group Identity Results

        The climate survey includes the following question:

"Everyone is a member of many groups including but not limited to those based on age, race, gender, sexual orientation, physical abilities, socio-economic status, country of origin, major, job, and religion. However, for most people a few group memberships are usually most important.

We realize that this may be a difficult question, but considering all of your group memberships, pick one that's important to you in how you are treated or interact with others WHEN YOU ARE ON CAMPUS and type it in the box below."

 Students were then asked to use the group identity reported to respond to questions assessing:

o       Stereotypes encountered based on group identity

o       Ratings of UCB as a place to be for you and members of your group

o       Overt prejudice/discrimination encountered because of group identity

        Students belong to many groups; which one is considered most important to how they are treated on campus varies considerably beyond such factors as gender and race/ethnicity. For many students, major discipline, class level, athletic or Greek status, age, or religious affiliation are seen as most central to how they are treated on campus. Experiences with stereotyping and ratings of the campus and community climate vary by identity group membership.

        Students for whom racial/ethnic identity is most salient in how they are treated express a less favorable view of the campus climate. In addition, faculty have low performance expectations of these students, according to student reports.

More information on identity group results

Results for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Students

        In order to ensure that a sufficient number of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) students were surveyed, we made a special effort to solicit their participation. At our request, the director of the campus GLBT Resource Center sent an e-mail to students on the Center's mailing list encouraging them to complete the survey. The GLBT students who took part in the Climate Survey were therefore either "GLBT Center students" or were part of the random sample and self-identified as GLBT. Because GLBT students were not part of the sampling design for the survey, it is possible that their responses are not representative of the population of all GLBT students at CU-Boulder.

        GLBT students are not as positive as other students about the campus climate. GLBT students' reports of the CU-Boulder campus climate are not overly negative; nonetheless, in many cases, they are not particularly positive either. For the most part, responses from the GLBT Center students are more negative than responses from the GLBT students in the random sample and from the non-GLBT students. However, in a few areas, both groups of GLBT students look more similar to one another than to the non-GLBT students.

Both GLBT Center students and GLBT students in the random sample rate the campus as somewhat less friendly and welcoming as compared to the non-GLBT students. GLBT students report feeling "different" at a rather high rate; more than a third of the randomly-selected GLBT students and nearly half of the GLBT Center students say they "often" or "very often" feel different. In comparison, just over a quarter of the non-GLBT students report feeling different this frequently.

More information on results for GLBT students

Results for Students with Disabilities

        In order to ensure that we surveyed a sufficient number of students with disabilities to permit separate analyses for them, we made a special effort to recruit students with disabilities. At our request, the director of the campus Disabilities Services office sent an email to students on the Center's mailing list encouraging them to complete the survey. Because students with disabilities were not part of the sampling design for the survey, it is possible that their responses are not representative of the population of all students with disabilities at CU-Boulder.

        Students with disabilities rate the climate somewhat less favorably. Although students both with and without disabilities rate the campus climate favorably overall, responses from students with disabilities are somewhat less positive. Students with disabilities are somewhat less likely to feel that the campus is friendly and welcoming. They also report less comfort in social settings, such as using the recreation center or the UMC, participating in campus social life, shopping or eating in Boulder, and living in the residence halls.

        Classrooms are comfortable and accessible. The great majority of students with disabilities report feeling comfortable in class. More than half report that classrooms are "pretty much" or "very much" accessible to persons with disabilities.

        Reports of disparaging remarks are similar for students both with and without disabilities. Reports of how frequently students with and without disabilities hear other students make disparaging remarks about various groups are generally similar. Some differences are found, however, for how often students with and without disabilities hear other students making disparaging remarks about whites. In this instance, students with disabilities more often report hearing such remarks.

More information on results for students with disabilities

Conclusion

Encouraging Findings

        Many of the findings of the 2006 Climate Surveys suggest that CU-Boulder's climate is positive, favorable, valuing of diversity, and fairly comfortable for all students, irrespective of race/ethnicity and gender.

        Campus diversity efforts over the past few years appear to be making a difference for African-American undergraduate students, who in 2006 reported greater levels of acceptance, comfort in class, and comfort interacting with faculty members outside of class than they did in 2001.

        The faculty received high marks on the extent to which they value diversity. In addition, they are only very seldom heard making disparaging remarks toward members of other groups, according to student reports.

Findings to Be Mindful Of

        Despite the gains made with respect to undergraduate African-Americans' opinions of the campus climate, more work needs to be done to ensure that they are comfortable here, as evidenced by the notable declines over time in their ratings of CU-Boulder as "a place to be" and the fact that their overall ratings of the campus and the Boulder community remain somewhat below those of other undergraduate racial/ethnic groups.

        International students' ratings of how comfortable they would feel expressing views in class, participating in campus ethnic/cultural activities, and living in residence halls have declined notably since 2001. This may be due, in part, to the increased governmental scrutiny these students have been receiving, and suggests that the campus might want to consider finding ways to increase their levels of comfort.

 

Prepared by the Office of Planning, Budget, and Analysis
August 2007
Climate Survey 2006 posting: http://www.colorado.edu/pba/surveys/climate/06/index.htm
Questions? Send e-mail to IR@colorado.edu

Last revision 05/17/10



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