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Penn State Publishes Community, Diversity, & Inclusion Survey Results

Penn State released the results of its recent community, diversity, and inclusion survey that was sent to students, faculty, and staff throughout the summer.

More than 20,000 individuals participated in the survey at a 17% response rate. In total, 58% of respondents were students, while 42% were employees.

Penn State also published a dashboard that displays the survey’s findings and charts out some statistics. Filters can be used to break down the data by respondents’ roles at the University, race/ethnicity, campus, gender identity, sexual orientation, political affiliation, and more.

To make the survey’s results a bit more digestible, we’ve broken them down by category.

Belonging & Inclusion

  • 79% of respondents reported being satisfied with the overall climate on their campus.
  • 69% of respondents expressed satisfaction with the experience or environment regarding diversity on their campuses.
  • 70% of respondents reported being satisfied with the extent to which they personally experience a sense of belonging or community on their campus.
  • 53% of all respondents agreed that their campus environment is free from tension related to individual or group differences.
  • 88% agreed that diversity on campus improves experiences and interactions in the classroom, workplace, and the overall community.
  • 90% agreed they enjoy working with people different from themselves.

Engagement Across Difference

  • 68% of all respondents reported having daily interactions with people of racial/ethnic backgrounds different than their own over the last year; 95% expressed comfort with such interactions.  
  • 82% reported interacting at least monthly with individuals from a country other than their own, and 94% said they were comfortable doing so.
  • 60% reported interacting daily with individuals across religious backgrounds; 93% said they would be comfortable with those interactions.  
  • 56% reported daily interactions with people holding different political affiliations, philosophies, or views, and 93% expressed comfort doing so. 

Experiences With Stereotyping, Microaggressions, & Harassment

  • 79% of respondents reported that they had never been discriminated against or harassed on their Penn State campus, at an off-campus residence, or at an off-campus program or activity.
  • Between 52% and 59% of respondents cited gender or gender identity, physical appearance, political affiliation, and views, or age, and generation as the reason for harassment or harassment, and 43% percent identified racial or ethnic identity as the reason discrimination or harassment. 
  • 63% of respondents indicated that their experiences of discrimination or harassment occurred within the last year.
  • 82% agreed they feel safe in the community surrounding their campus.  
  • 76% agreed they feel welcomed in the community surrounding their campus.

Cultural Competence & Knowledge

  • 90% agreed they enjoy working with people different from themselves. 
  • 76% agreed they are aware they hold implicit or unconscious biases. 

Institutional Commitment To Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • 56% of respondents agreed that the recruitment of marginalized students, faculty, and staff is an institutional priority.
  • 52% agreed that the retention of marginalized students, faculty, and staff is an institutional priority.
  • 65% of respondents agreed that Penn State senior leadership demonstrates a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus. 

In a statement, Penn State President Eric Barron said he’s proud of the survey’s results and will use the findings to plan for the university’s future.

“I am so appreciative of everyone who took the time to complete the survey and to share their feedback and personal experiences on our campuses. While much has changed in our country and world since the survey was administered and some views and feelings may have shifted, these findings are an important piece of understanding the conversations we need to have and where we must focus our work moving forward,” Barron said. “It is clear there is work to do and areas we need to continue to tackle as a community to address dissatisfaction and inequity. I have commissioned several groups in the past months that are dedicated to these topics, and I am eager to see the progress that also stems from this survey as we continue to build a community of support and inclusion.”

Penn State leaders should use findings from the survey to develop action plans that address the feedback from the community to align with Penn State’s Strategic Plan to advance inclusion, equity, and diversity. Action plans should be developed by the end of February 2021.

Additionally, equity consultants from the Office of Educational Equity will be available to help make connections between the survey results and the leaders of units tasked with creating action plans.

Penn State plans to administer the Community Survey every three to four years to continue perpetuating inclusion, equity, and diversity. Suggestions for additional analyses and dashboards for phase two of the survey are being taken and should be submitted here.

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About the Author

Mackenna Yount

Mackenna Yount is a freshman food science major from Manitou Springs, Colorado. She loves food, is addicted to coffee, and can give you random facts or bad jokes that nobody cares about. Ask her to bake gluten-free cupcakes and she'll throw in some brownies too. Mackenna can be contacted via Twitter @mackennayount.

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