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The central and lakeshore residential area of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus is pictured in an aerial view during autumn on Oct. 12, 2013. At top is Lake Mendota and Picnic Point. Prominent campus buildings include, from left to right, the Wisconsin Energy Institute, the DeLuca biochemistry complex, Microbial Sciences, Bock Laboratories, Genetics-Biotechnology Center Building, Agricultural Hall, Nancy Nicholas Hall, McArdle Cancer Research Building, Van Hise Hall and the Medical Sciences Center. The photograph was made from a helicopter looking northwest. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

The following message was sent from Chancellor Rebecca Blank, Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate Patrick Sims and Vice Provost for Student Life and Dean of Students Lori Berquam to the UW-Madison community on Nov. 1.

Members of the campus community,

Last fall, we began a project that is important to the future of UW–Madison: A study of our campus climate, with findings informed by our first-ever campus-wide survey of students.

We’re here to report back on what we’ve learned, share how we plan to improve, and ask that you join us in charting that future path.

More than 8,000 students participated in the survey. It found that most students view the climate positively, consider diversity important and try to create a welcoming environment for other students.

Not surprisingly, though, that’s not true for everyone. Students from historically underrepresented and disadvantaged groups report experiencing a less favorable campus climate than majority students.

Most concerning, 11 percent of students reported being the target of hostile, harassing, or intimidating behavior while at UW–Madison.

That troubles us deeply and runs counter to our expectations and values. We want everyone to feel that they belong, are included and are treated with respect.

We thank all those who participated in the survey. We will use this data to make our campus a more just and inclusive place.

Among our areas of renewed focus:

  • Promoting instructional best practices that ensure an inclusive learning environment;
  • Boosting recruitment of underrepresented students, faculty and staff and making sure we retain them; and
  • Increasing the capacity of students, faculty and staff to intervene in response to hostile, harassing and intimidating behavior.

These and other recommendations from the Campus Climate Survey Task Force expand on the Diversity Framework and its 2015 implementation plan, called R.E.E.L. Change.

Members of the campus community will have numerous opportunities in the months ahead to join the conversation on campus climate, beginning with the annual Diversity Forum on Nov. 7 at Union South. It features nationally known keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and a town hall meeting. Although the session is at capacity, we are setting up an overflow space for all those who register.

On Dec. 4, we will review the survey results and gather feedback from students and staff during two evening sessions at the Multicultural Student Center, 716 Langdon St. The first is at 6:30 p.m. The second session, intended especially for staff who work second and third shifts, begins at 11:30 p.m.

There will be other opportunities to engage about the findings and our future path. We also commit to repeating the survey in four years to track our progress.

As our alumni will attest, most graduates from UW feel deeply connected to the Badger community and remain in touch long after they leave. But this survey indicates there are important exceptions. Students, faculty, staff and administrators all have a responsibility to create the community we aspire to be.

For more information on the survey, its findings and recommendations, visit diversity.wisc.edu/climate/survey.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank
Patrick Sims, Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate
Lori Berquam, Vice Provost for Student Life and Dean of Students

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