Efforts to support Meredith College’s anti-racism initiative have been ongoing since it was launched in June 2020. One of the earliest, and most important, steps in this critical work was to undertake a nationally normed campus climate survey of undergraduate and graduate students, employees, and alumnae/i.
Results from the survey were received by the Office of Research, Planning, and Assessment (RPA) in March 2021. RPA staff then compiled an overview of results that were shared with various groups on campus including the Executive Leadership Team, Administrative Management Council, and faculty and staff during an annual spring faculty/staff conference. The Board of Trustees also reviewed the survey results; the College is planning for additional releases of survey results and related conversations with students in the fall.
Overview of Survey Results
The largest percentage of 430 respondents were undergraduate students, making up nearly half of those who participated. Alumnae/i made up the next largest component, followed by staff, faculty, graduate students, and administrators. Mirroring the Meredith population, nearly 70% of respondents were white, with the remaining 30% being people of color and international individuals.
Survey results indicate that while many view Meredith positively, many others have found Meredith’s campus to be less than inclusive.
“These results offer much information that is humbling and painful, but it is a critical first step in making progress,” said President Jo Allen. “We are listening to what our respondents have told us and take the findings seriously. We are working through the results as they lead to solutions and steps forward.”
Immediate steps are being taken in response to one piece of clear feedback from the survey, which was that students are not sure where or how to report bias incidents. The Office of the Dean of Students is working with academic deans, administrators, and others on campus to make the reporting process clearer, more visible, and more transparent.
Other steps include reviewing and revising the honor code to more explicitly address incidents of discrimination and bias; holding multiple anti-racism training opportunities for students, faculty, and staff; conducting additional information-gathering such as DEI focus groups and conversations across campus; reviewing student and employee handbooks for clear expectations of behavior regarding race; and much more. In addition, Meredith will be hiring a new DEI professional in 2021-22 to help coordinate the grassroots and oversight of various anti-racism initiatives.
“Our work on anti-racism offers the opportunity to learn, to discuss, to listen, and to act,” said Allen. “Drawing together the worlds of teaching, research, and collaboration within both historical and current contexts is both the challenge and the inspiration for this work.”
On a positive note, the survey results show that 98% of Meredith’s population agrees that diversity is an important element of a quality education, compared with 88% of the national population’s view.
“That fact alone tells us that our community is open-minded and open-hearted for the work to be done,” said President Jo Allen. “Incorporating welcoming and belonging practices requires that we listen to ways our community can be better – that we can be better.”
Learn more at meredith.edu/anti-racism-initiative