Faculty meeting overviews campus climate survey, discusses curriculum changes

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Results from the student climate survey pertaining to faculty in the classroom were presented at the beginning of the monthly faculty meeting on Monday. According to the report, there has been a steady decline of students’ level of comfort with overall campus climate since 2012.

In 2012, 81 percent of students felt comfortable on campus whereas only 59 percent of students feel that way today based on results on a survey given to students last spring.

“There was a significant gender difference as well with only 58 percent of women who felt comfortable with overall climate compared to 66 percent of men. Only 31 percent of domestic students of color and 54 percent of international students reported feeling comfortable in comparison to 66 percent of white students,” said Alesha Bowman, director of multicultural student services, who presented the results.

The response rate for the survey was 401 students or about a 17 percent response rate, and there was generally an underrepresentation of international student, male and Greek life student responses.

Other results included that only 77 percent feel comfortable in the classroom while eight percent are uncomfortable and 15 percent are neutral. Only 52 percent of domestic students of color are comfortable in the classroom compared to 83 percent of white students. On the other hand, 73 percent of students believe that DePauw’s curriculum exposes them to diverse perspectives and concepts.

When asked by Jeffrey Kinney, a professor of religious studies, if the survey results were comparable to other schools or part of a national trends, Myrna Hernandez, dean of students, replied that it was solely a DePauw survey, not a national survey, which made it problematic to compare.

Faculty also approved of a motion, with slight opposition, to dissolve the Russian and Russian Studies Minors. “The rationale is that we no longer have a Russian professor and no plans to hire another Russian professor,” said David Gellman, a professor of history.

The meeting agenda provided an advance notice for the voting of a new proposal for a revised language requirement. The motion proposes that students must complete two semesters of a language other than English. Students will no longer be able to test-out of a language to complete the language requirement.

The rationale provided states, “While students may well have developed language skills prior to enrolling at DePauw, our revised language program will more directly help them attend to the University’s greater mandate for international and cross-cultural competence.”

The Student Academic Life committee also provided advance notice of a motion concerning religious holidays to be voted on at the next meeting. If the motion passes next month, faculty will be expected to “excuse” students from class rather than “accommodate” them and “be flexible with respect to deadlines for required coursework,” according to proposed new language in the Academic Handbook.

At the meeting, the faculty also discussed lesser sanctions, a Power, Privilege and Diversity project for faculty and the Greek Life Commission.

Because of President Mark McCoy’s absence, no remarks from the president were given. In her announcements, Anne Harris, vice president for academic affairs, spoke about the Higher Learning Association accreditation process. The faculty meeting concluded by going into executive session. The next faculty meeting will be held May 7.