Nearly one-quarter of University of California students, staff and faculty members say they have felt excluded, intimidated or on the receiving end of hostile or offensive behavior while at school or work, according to results from a survey released Wednesday. The survey represents the public college system's most comprehensive attempt to date to gauge the climate at its 10 campuses and major off-campus offices.
The 93-item questionnaire emailed to more than 386,000 students and employees last year was part of a broader effort to promote respect and diversity following a series of racially and ethnically charged incidents that included a noose and KKK hood being found at UC San Diego in 2010, complaints about bias from UCLA faculty and staff in 2012, and ongoing tensions between Palestinian supporters and Jewish students at several schools.
It found high levels of satisfaction overall, with 79 percent of the 104,208 respondents saying they were comfortable learning or working at UC. The results varied somewhat among students and faculty who were asked to evaluate the environment specifically in their classes, with 73 percent of undergraduates, 78 percent of graduate students and 56 percent of faculty and postdoctoral scholars saying they were comfortable or very comfortable with the level of respect they experienced there.
Of the 24 percent who reported "personal experiences of exclusionary, intimidating, offensive or hostile conduct" in the previous year, 42 percent said they had been intimidated or bullied, 19 percent said they had heard derogatory remarks and 9 percent said they had feared for their physical safety. Another 9 percent said the episodes were serious enough to interfere with their studies or work.
Race, religion and ethnicity were not the only sources of friction. "Position" as a student, staff or faculty member was the top reason respondents gave for the disrespect or exclusion they experienced. Age, academic discipline and philosophical views also were cited.
The responses were broken down by campus and by such factors as age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, citizenship status and disability. UC Provost Aimee Dorr told the university's governing board that managers and administrators would analyze the detailed data to look for areas in which to improve.
Regent Eddie Island said he was not sure whether the system can draw many conclusions from the survey given the comparatively low response rate, which ranged from 72 percent at the president's office to 18 percent at UC Riverside.
Along with students and employees at the 10 campuses, the survey was administered to personnel at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the UC president's office.
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Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.