The University has a foundational commitment to the idea that a culture of free and open inquiry requires empowering individuals of all backgrounds, experiences, identities, and perspectives to challenge conventional thinking in pursuit of original ideas. Such goals can only fully be realized within a climate that is inclusive.

In the fall of 2014, several student groups with support from faculty and staff to address climate issues and promote inclusion. To inform the University's efforts to promote diversity and inclusion, a steering committee was eventually formed and developed a survey in 2016 designed to measure the campus climate around issues of diversity and inclusion -- from individual attitudes and interpersonal interactions to institutionalized policies and practices. The data compiled focuses on discrimination and harassment across historically marginalized or stigmatized groups in race/ethnicity, gender identification, ability status, and sexual orientation

The Spring 2016 Climate Survey was sent to 25,594 students, faculty, and staff and yielded a 29% completion rate.


Report Conclusions

In the report's conclusions, members of the University community (i.e. students, faculty, employees) that identified as members of a racial minority were more likely to perceive the overall institutional climate of the University of Chicago as racist, including:


  • 40% of Black respondents

  • 25% of Hispanic/Latinx respondents

  • 21% of Asian respondents

  • 27& of Biracial or Multiracial respondents 


Among students, those that identify as a member of minority groups were less likely to report experiencing a campus climate that was conducive to their full inclusion at the university. 


Many responded that they do not believe that students of their racial/ethnic group are respected on campus, including:

  • 69% of Black students

  • 25% of Hispanic/Latinx students

  • 18% of Asian students

  • 24% of Biracial or Multiracial students


A significant number of respondents believe that they are unable to fulfill the requirements of their coursework without repressing parts of their identity, background, or experience, including:


  • 43% of Black students

  • 16% of Hispanic/Latinx students

  • 11% of Asian students

  • 21% of Biracial or Multiracial students


Many students that identified as racial minorities also responded that they do not have opportunities for academic success similar to that of their peers, including:


  • 39% of Black students

  • 20% of Hispanic/Latinx students

  • 14% of Asian students

  • 18% of Biracial or Multiracial students


So. Why is all this important?


Significant numbers of people of color on campus:

  1. Perceive the institutional climate as racist,

  2. Experience discrimination and harassment in ways that made them feel unvalued or want to leave the university,

  3. Believe that they cannot fulfill required coursework without suppressing their identities, backgrounds, or experiences.


And while the 2016 Campus Climate survey has informed many of the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative's programming, the survey’s organizers admit that there are important perspectives cannot be captured in one survey. Issues of diversity, inclusion, discrimination, and implicit bias are complicated, and they are inextricably linked with aspects of identity that cannot fit neatly into a checkbox. Microaggressions and implicit bias can be littered in our everyday interactions, and they appear in ways that are, by nature, small and hard to point out. Simply put, we cannot rely on standardized rating scales to portray the experiences of people of color at the University.


With Exploring Race, we want to provide a platform that lets PoC voices guide and direct the public conversation on race. By dedicating attention to issues of race on campus, we will highlight stories rooted in experience and evoke stories we might not hear otherwise. We hope to create conversations that are grounded in reality, as opposed to purely abstract ideas, and can capture the qualitative experiences of racial discrimination at the University.

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