Thursday, March 20, 2014

Campus Climate: Anyone Want to Ask Judge Cunningham About It?

The long-awaited (and costly) campus climate report on UC (with segments for each campus) was unveiled yesterday with great fanfare in connection with yesterday's Regents meeting.  Readers of this blog will know that a) the report was commissioned as a response to various incidents involving race or ethnicity, b) the cost was rumored to be something like a million dollars, and c) the UCLA faculty welfare committee in particular warned that a very lengthy survey (93 questions!) with voluntary responses would produce low response rates with likely biases.  So what happened?  The response rates were low and despite producing long campus reports, there is no way of correcting for the biases that may be involved.

Below is a table of the response rates for UCLA and for UC as a whole:

Response Rates:   UCLA      UC
Undergrads         19%      21%
Grads              24       26
Union staff        12       27
Nonunion staff     35       47
Faculty            19       27
All                22       27
Reporting some
incidents          24%      24%
Note: There were slight discrepancies in rounding between the numbers on the table above and the detailed report.  The numbers above are from the executive summary.  It's not entirely clear who is in "faculty" but it likely includes non-ladder faculty.  One guesses that the high percentage for nonunion staff reflects administrators and managers who may have felt more pressure than others to respond.

You can read the survey results for UCLA at the link below.  In news reports, the 24% hostile incident number got the headlines.  And there were lots of cross tabs and pretty charts in the actual survey report.  But the problem remains.  Now in the world of politics when problems arise, commissioning a study is often part of the "solution."  That is what we seem to have here.  Was it worth a million bucks (if that was the cost) to defuse the problem?  And, of course, as readers of this blog will know, well after the survey was taken, Judge David Cunningham was arrested by the UCLA police in Westwood for driving while black last fall. He has filed a claim against the university for $10 million (the cost of ten surveys!). Despite all of the rhetoric coming from Murphy Hall about the just-released survey and its importance, no one has asked Judge Cunningham about his view of the local campus climate.

The UCLA edition of the report is at:

The LA Times write-up on the report is at:

The Daily Bruin write-up is at:

Note: As usual, we will eventually be providing an audio archive of the Regents meeting at which the survey was released.

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