Following a campus climate study conducted last year that aimed to evaluate diversity practices, APU employees and students are now seeking ways to best utilize the results.
The study, conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) Higher Education Research Institute, took results from interviews of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, administration, alumni and board members to highlight common responses.
The key themes revealed in the study were to: improve responses to incidents of bias, discrimination and harassment; create space for authentic engagement about diversity; enrich diversity skills and knowledge; address inequalities in distribution of resources and power; and bridge diverse communities.
Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President of the Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence Kimberly B. W. Denu, Ph.D., said that the themes identified in the study were not surprising, but affirming of what she knew concerning APU’s climate.
“The study has identified some key areas in which we can better understand and care for all members of our campus community,” Denu said.
Denu’s office is currently in collaboration with the Student Center for Reconciliation and Diversity (SCRD) and the Diversity Collaboration Committee (DCC) to address concerns found in the study.
“Community members have appreciated the transparent sharing of the results and are eager to address the five themes,” Denu said.
APU already has several means of addressing the themes with current protocols and practices. In an effort to improve diversity efforts on campus, an online Bias Incident Report, the appointment of a Title IX Coordinator, faculty and staff diversity workshops and the Diversity Ambassadors Program have been put into place.
Additionally, an online diversity course for adjunct faculty and diversity action plans created by each school and ethnic organization have been added, as well as the Mosaic Caucus and a new General Education Intercultural Competence course. Student Government Association (SGA) forums have also been conducted.
According to Denu, one area that requires improvement is the need for a more diverse campus workforce. A training in November will discuss specific strategies to diversify the hiring of faculty and administration.
“We wanted to better understand the perspectives and concerns of diverse groups on campus,” Provost Mark Stanton, Ph.D., said. “We are committed to using the results of the climate study to inform our actions and activities going forward.”
DDC undergraduate representative and SGA University Senator Nicholas Ramos said working as part of the committee has been a privilege and a positive opportunity to implement change in an area he cares about.
“It’s one thing to talk about diversity issues with your peers, but it’s another thing to talk about it with people who do this kind of thing for a living,” Ramos, a sophomore international business major and prelaw minor said. “I’ve always had a heart for social justice and diversity issues. If I’m doing what I’m passionate about, I’m doing my job.”
Ramos said reviewing the study allows the committee to take what he considers a logical steps toward solutions. He said he believes many private institutions do not focus enough on diversity issues, and he thinks APU is a “trailblazer” for Christian universities.
“The university is making this a priority, which I’m proud to see,” Ramos said. “I’m excited for what we’re going to do this year.”
In his role, Ramos said he hopes to empower students to start discussions and create change.
“If they feel like they are part of a marginalized voice, I want to give them authority because they have it,” Ramos said. “I think the students should take this opportunity to think about how they would like to see the school improve and what they would like to see changed.”
To learn more about the results of the campus climate study, attend a session in Wilden 119 on either Friday, Nov. 4 from 10:30–11:30 a.m., or on Thursday, Nov. 17 from 4–5 p.m.