A majority of students of color report disrespectful conduct based on race and ethnicity, in the classroom at Central Oregon Community College. COCC’s Diversity Committee created and distributed the survey that ended up yielding this statistic, in Spring term of 2014.
Mindy Williams, Chair of the Diversity Committee, said, “In a broad sense the survey was designed to assess how welcoming, inclusive, and respectful our campus is.” However, as discussed in the Executive Summary, the survey was also designed to evaluate the different types of disrespectful or hostile conduct in two different categories, conduct that students witnessed or were made aware of, and conduct that the students experienced personally as the victim.
The survey was sent out to every COCC e-mail account in Spring 2014, which 634 students responded to. Overall, 87 percent of students felt comfortable or very comfortable at COCC. LGBTQ students were the most comfortable with the atmosphere at COCC and students with disabilities as the least comfortable.
A total of 93 students (15.7 percent of those who responded) reported witnessing or being made aware of actions that created a hostile environment. 57.2 percent of these situations involved disability and racial/ethnicity based conduct.
FIfty-eight students (9.7 percent of respondents) personally experienced disrespect based on disability, socioeconomic status, gender or gender expression, race/ethnicity, or religious views.
Students with disabilities named the main areas of concern as inadequate disabled parking and seating at COCC and trouble navigating the campus. However, 18 percent did strongly disagree with the fact that the faculty is genuinely concerned for their welfare.
“There’s a surprising undercurrent of racism among the student body at COCC. While it has thus far never been directed at me, I have found myself in the uncomfortable position of confronting racism socially many times at COCC,” said an unnamed student, whose words were used in the Executive Summary of the survey.
“A respectful campus is directly correlated to students’ success,” said Karen Roth, the Director of Multicultural Activities at COCC.
The Diversity Committee has since come up with ways to improve our campus climate to make COCC a more welcoming place. Suggestions include developing effective training opportunities for staff and faculty that could help to handle any hostile situations, improving the way that incidents are reported and increasing access to tools that make reporting incidents easier.
McKayla Schneider | The Broadside