2020 Equity and Inclusion Survey Results Offer Valuable Insights Into Campus Climate

The survey, launched in April 2020, is part of Lehigh’s ongoing work to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive campus community.

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As part of the university’s ongoing work to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive campus community, Lehigh participated in the 2019-2020 HEDS Diversity and Equity Campus Climate Survey. The university launched the survey in April 2020 and received its results in the fall.

Administered by The Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS), the survey provided a four-fold assessment of Lehigh’s climate. It evaluated perceptions of students, faculty, staff and administrators regarding our climate; how Lehigh supports diversity and equity; and the community’s experiences with insensitive or disparaging remarks and discrimination and harassment. 

Results Comparable to Similar Universities

A benefit of administering the HEDS Survey is the ability to view Lehigh’s results in the context of similar universities. In benchmarking provided by HEDS, Lehigh’s scores from responses across the survey’s four general indicators (Campus Climate for Diversity and Equity, Institutional Support for Diversity and Equity, Insensitive or Disparaging Remarks, and Experiences of Discrimination or Harassment) were in line with those of other institutions. 

When asked about Lehigh’s overall campus climate for diversity and equity, 76% of undergraduate students, 78% of graduate students, 66% of faculty, and 78% of staff/administrators answered that they are “generally” to “very satisfied.” Students, faculty and staff expressed lower levels of satisfaction with the campus experience/environment regarding diversity (51-71%), sense of community (63-72%) and sense of all community members belonging (40-60%). 

Disparities Beneath the Surface

A closer look at the data reveals that some members of the Lehigh community experience the university’s campus climate differently depending on their individual identity. For example, men perceive more institutional support for diversity and equity than do women and non-binary individuals. In addition, U.S. citizens of color hear more insensitive/disparaging remarks than international individuals, non-binary individuals hear more insensitive or disparaging remarks than men, and LGBTQIA+ individuals hear more insensitive/disparaging remarks than heterosexual individuals.

"Though the data indicates a general satisfaction with the campus climate, we recognize that there are disparities when you break them down by factors such as gender, race, sexual orientation and other identities,” noted Vice President for Equity and Community Donald Outing. “These disparities identify the work that still needs to be done and we remain committed to that work."

“The 2020 HEDS Survey results provide a baseline for us to measure our progress,” Outing added. “We plan to administer it every other spring, allowing us to view change over time.”

The 2020 survey was originally scheduled to launch in March, but was delayed by the pandemic. Response rates varied significantly by category: 11% for undergraduate students, 15% for graduate students, 36% for faculty, and 49% for staff/administrators. 

More detailed results from the survey are available at this link.

Story by Hillary Kwiatek

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