Add your voice to Emory’s climate survey on racial diversity, equity and inclusion

By Susan M. Carini | Emory Report | Oct. 19, 2021

Learn more about the DEI Climate Survey from Emory Provost Ravi V. Bellamkonda.

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On Oct. 26, Emory faculty, staff and students will receive an individualized email link inviting them to be part of a campus climate survey on racial diversity, equity and inclusion that the university is conducting in partnership with University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center through Nov. 23.

Emory is taking notable steps to cultivate a thriving academic community, one where each of us feels welcome and thereby able to contribute our full selves to the amazing work and study that takes place here. The National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates (NACCC) survey is an important part of this process,” notes Carol Henderson, vice provost for diversity and inclusion, chief diversity officer and adviser to the president.

With a DEI strategic planning process currently underway under Henderson’s leadership, “this survey is another critical element in understanding how the community sees itself and what actionable goals can be formulated to improve campus climate,” she adds. 

Survey background

First piloted in 2018, the NACCC survey is based on more than a decade of work to conduct qualitative studies at colleges and universities. The survey reflects input from a team of race, equity and inclusion experts across the country and also relies on an advisory panel of students who counsel on the ways students engage with campus surveys generally and provide input on the racial climate survey specifically.

Focusing on six content areas essential to understanding racial climate — mattering and affirmation, cross-racial engagement, encounters with racial stress, racial learning and literacy, appraisals of institutional commitment and impact of external environments — the NACCC survey has become a gold standard in this area.

The more respondents, the better the data

Nancy Bliwise, vice provost for academic planning, oversees Emory’s Office of Planning and Administration; her team is helping to ensure a successful rollout of the survey.

“As someone who leads the university’s institutional research and data-governance efforts, I know that survey fatigue is real. That said, we encourage everyone to complete the NACCC survey; what it is measuring, racial climate, is so important to our future and the well-being of our community,” says Bliwise.

Previous NACCC surveys undertaken by peer institutions have polled only undergraduate students. “At Emory, our leaders have made a special point of including all community members. Take advantage of that decision and use the email link to be heard,” notes Bliwise.

Confidential and voluntary, the survey (which will be sent from helpdesk@nacccsurvey.org) will take 15 minutes. Completed surveys will be sent directly to the NACCC, not to Emory. The university will receive its Campus Racial Climate Report in late spring 2022. The report will provide specific scores on a benchmarking scale in each content area, highlighting strengths and areas for improvement.

In turn, “Emory will be fully transparent about the results. In this way, we will honor everyone who invested time in the survey and we will be poised to work together on improvement areas,” says Bliwise.

Looking to Emory’s students to lead the way

Enku Gelaye, senior vice president and dean of campus life, sees the issue of diversity, equity and inclusion as central to the concerns of Emory students.

“It is who they are. Their openness to these matters is something we have never seen before, something generational. They talk about it on several fronts: gender identity, sexuality, socioeconomic status, ability status, race and culture. I hope that their ease in this realm will teach us,” says Gelaye.

Henderson is confident that the community will get behind this initiative. “I have seen ample evidence of what we can do when working together for the common good. Our ‘year of COVID-19’ — when we did not just survive but thrive, amid considerable challenges — is an example none of us should ever forget. We are at another inflection point. To give us the data we need to assess our climate and effect seismic change where needed, we look to every member of our community to raise their voice,” says Henderson.