Community experience studied

The Center for Rural Studies released a survey via email geared toward collecting information on UVM’s campus climate on April 4.  The Campus Climate Survey requests feedback on a broad range of topics such as discrimination, sexual harassment and bias, according to the campus climate website. “The goals of the survey are to gather data on the campus community experience and to inform the University’s effort to create a welcoming, respectful and inclusive campus community,” said Jane Kolodinsky, director of the Center for Rural Studies. The Center for Rural Studies works with people and communities to address social, economic and resource-based challenges through research, community outreach, program evaluation and consulting, according to the Center for Rural Studies’ website. Kolodinsky said she worked with a variety of people to construct a detailed questionnaire specifically for the UVM community. The questions were developed based on previous surveys that have been done about equity and campus climate, she said. The survey begins with general questions about the campus, the student’s personal beliefs and experiences and ends with demographic questions, Kolodinsky said. Erin Roche, a research specialist for the culture of rural studies said this survey will function as a benchmark of information for future studies. “The data will be analyzed first by looking at the overall campus wide numbers for each topic as well as for all students, staff and faculty,” Roche said. Senior Christiana Jean Nilson said that although she has felt that UVM is like a home to her, she believes that there is room for improvement. “While I’d like to think that UVM is a very accepting, open-minded community, we need to hear directly from all groups at UVM in order to understand how they actually feel,” Nilson said. She said she feels that the survey is an effective way for people to express their feelings and thoughts about their experience at UVM. “I think it is important for everyone to take the survey in order for [his or her] voice to be heard,” she said. “A lot of noise is made these days about getting your opinion out to the world with Twitter and Facebook and online anonymous forums to vent. People always want their voice heard.” The Center for Rural Studies is expecting a 10 to 50 percent response rate to the survey, Kolodinsky said. Results of the survey will be released to the campus community after April 22, the end date of the survey, she said. For more information on the Campus Climate Survey, visit their website at http://www.uvm.edu/~csurvey or contact the Center for Rural Studies at 802-656-3021.