Minority students harassed

The Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity conducted what was supposed to be an extensive University-wide campus climate survey at UVM. Officials worry that the findings are tainted.Out of the 14,013 UVM community members, including staff, faculty, and students, only 21 percent completed the survey, Campus Climate Survey Committee Leader Dorothea Brauer said. Specifically, the survey results show that only 19 percent of undergraduate students completed the online survey. “Statistically the results fail in representing the community as a whole and are unable to draw general conclusion of community attitudes and trends,” Brauer said. “What is useful is how the experiences of the respondents with marginalized identities compared to the respondents with majority identities,” Brauer said. Survey respondents who identified themselves as minorities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, disabled, and/or as Non-Christian were up to four times more likely to have personally experienced offensive, hostile, or intimidating conduct, according to the survey. These marginalized UVM community members were two times as likely to witness or be aware of offensive conduct, according to the survey. Brauer finds the locations of these incidents highly alarming, saying that 32 percent of 1,085 witnessed incidents of bias occurred at a UVM job. 46 percent of the 561 reported incidents of bias that were personally experienced also happened while working at a UVM job, according to the survey.”Are we, the faculty, doing enough to supervise work study students?” Brauer said, considering the implications of data observed in the survey.31 percent of the incidents of bias witnessed, or that UVM was made aware of, occurred in classrooms, and 25 percent of the incidents of bias personally experienced occurred in classrooms as well, stated the survey. The faculty made up 26 percent of the sources of bias behavior that was witnessed or made aware of. Faculty accounted for 35 percent of the sources of bias behavior personally experienced, according to the survey. “19-20 year olds starting out in college, with peer pressure, are more understandable as bias aggressors. But faculty, paid by the school to uphold a model, is unnerving. They are supposed to be agents of the institution,” Brauer said. 33 out of the 147 respondents that reported being touched in a sexual manner , creating feelings of fear and discomfort, more frequently were UVM employees, Brauer said. “The common myth that sexual harassment on college campuses only occurs with young freshman girls at frat parties is simply not true. It is happening in classrooms, in offices,” Brauer said. “Bias exists on the UVM campus, enough – more than we want – and marginalized groups are receiving more than their fair share of it,” Brauer said. Over the next several months, various campus groups, offices, and committees, including the board of trustees, will review the 100 page report and offer recommendations to address the issues raised, interim President John Bramley said. Critiques of the survey, including its use of a non-random sample, have already come to the committee’s attention, Brauer said. Another critique she emphasized was that some minority groups were not examined at all. In particular, class divisions were not examined. Brauer pointed to the lack of funding for the survey as a problem, saying that some data has not been analyzed because the project ran out of money. The lack of funding given to promote the survey can also be a reason for the lack of student participation. The 2006 Campus Diversity Climate Survey is available in the library and can be accessed online at www.uvm.edu/~aaeo/campusclimatesurvey/