Campus Climate Survey reflects significant issues, Faculty Senate report details
In its first meeting of the winter quarter, the Faculty Senate heard a report on the results of the Campus Climate Survey, and the Faculty Senate voted to amend a motion introduced by the Planning and Policy Subcommittee on Campus Climate.
All members of the Stanford community must work to address the university’s significant issues around harassing and discriminatory behaviors, instead of placing the burden on those most impacted, Vice Provost for Institutional Equity, Access and Community Patrick Dunkley told the Faculty Senate on Thursday.
These experiences – which disproportionately impact certain underrepresented communities – are common in every Stanford school and across nearly every department and work unit, Dunkley and others detailed in a report on the 2021 IDEAL DEI Survey on Campus Climate results. Nearly a quarter of survey respondents who experienced this behavior have considered leaving Stanford.
The survey findings may not be consistent with some people’s lived experiences, Dunkley told the senate. However, he added, “these data do reflect the lived experiences of either people you know, or people in our community who you don’t know, but are nonetheless important to our community.”
“A really important goal of this survey is to provide the data so that each of us can acknowledge and understand, we have a problem with our campus culture,” said Provost Persis Drell. “And each of us needs to contribute to making that culture better.”
On Thursday, the Faculty Senate also voted to amend a motion by the Planning and Policy Board Subcommittee on Campus Climate, recommending for the senate to ask the Stanford administration to establish an anti-doxxing policy.
The Campus Climate survey was sent to all faculty, staff, students and postdocs in May 2021, and results were released in November. The survey had a 36 percent overall response rate, with a 29–31 percent response rate for students, postdocs and clinician educators, and a comparatively high response rate among staff and faculty, at 44 percent and 38 percent, respectively.
Director of Assessment and Program Evaluation Brian Cook detailed survey findings in the report to the Faculty Senate on Thursday, such as:
- 47 percent of graduate students and 45 percent of postdoctoral scholars who experienced verbal harassing behaviors indicated a faculty member or instructor was the perpetrator.
- 63 percent of Black or African American respondents indicated at least one experience with microaggression, discriminatory or harassing behaviors.
- Of the 1,313 staff who said they experienced verbal harassing behaviors, 41 percent indicated their boss or supervisor was the perpetrator, and 26 percent indicated a faculty member was the perpetrator.
- Nearly half of survey respondents who identify as trans reported experiencing harassing behaviors.
- Nearly half of undergraduates who identify as having a disability reported experiencing at least one discriminatory behavior.
Less than 10 percent of survey respondents who experienced microaggression, harassment or discrimination formally reported their experiences to the university. This can be interpreted as a clear signal that people don’t trust university leaders “to do the right thing,” Dunkley said.
Drell asked faculty to pay special attention to survey data on faculty interactions with staff, students, postdocs and other faculty.
“Our goal is that Stanford would be a place where every member of our community can come and learn and do their best work and be who they are without fear of the harmful behaviors addressed in this survey,” Drell said. “And we have a lot of work to get there, as is clear from the survey results.”
Cook explained to the senate that there were two types of data collected in the survey: closed-ended multiple choice data and open-ended write-in data. To maintain confidentiality, the initial data available on the survey website only reflects the closed-ended data. Stanford hired a consultant to compile the open-ended data and plans to make it available for review in coming weeks.
The university is now focusing on a community-centered goal-setting process that includes reviewing thousands of open-ended questions; collecting data from people – including those who didn’t participate in the survey – on what they think the university can do going forward; establishing preliminary goals; conducting focus groups to refine and revise goals; developing metrics; and creating transparent means to show accountability.
Also, there are opportunities for people to better understand their biases and blind spots, Dunkley said, such as the IDEAL Learning Journey for staff as well as bias training. There are also several more options such as workshops, toolkits and videos in the works.
“There are a number of staff members who feel that the involvement – the voluntary, open and enthusiastic involvement – of faculty in addressing these issues is critical to the success of our campus,” Dunkley said.
Susan K. McConnell, the Susan B. Ford Professor and professor of biology, said that while many members of the Stanford community have embraced these concerns, “few of us are trained to deal with these issues, on the ground, in the workplace,” and she asked for more DEI professional support in those settings.
The Faculty Senate also voted to amend a motion by the Planning and Policy Board (PPB) Subcommittee on Campus Climate, recommending for the senate to ask the administration to establish an anti-doxxing policy to protect students, staff and faculty.
Doxxing refers to the practice of gathering personally identifiable information and releasing it online for malicious purposes.
The anti-doxxing policy should be “consistent with Stanford’s core values and state and federal laws,” and the administration should “strive to bring said anti-doxxing policy back to the senate for review and possible endorsement before the end of the 2021-2022 academic year,” reads the amendment, which was proposed by the senate’s Steering Committee. It was further amended Thursday with the addition of the word “possible.”
After lengthy, passionate discussion, the Faculty Senate had voted in November to table a vote on endorsing four recommendations from the PPB Subcommittee, which included establishing an anti-doxxing policy.
“It’s just harassment to intimidate individuals and suppress speech,” said David Miller, the W.M. Keck Foundation Professor in Electrical Engineering. Miller noted there are “tricky legal issues” involved that must be carefully considered as the administration considers how to develop this policy.
On Thursday, the Associated Students of Stanford University also read an anti-doxxing motion recently passed by the Undergraduate Senate and Graduate Student Council. The Anti-doxxing Recommendations Act includes calling for the Committee of 10 to include interpreting doxxing as a violation of the university’s Fundamental Standard.
President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Drell thanked the subcommittee for bringing the motion forward and said they are committed to having a new policy ready for the senate’s review by the end of the academic year.
On Thursday, Tessier-Lavigne and Drell also thanked faculty for their flexibility as the university navigated the omicron surge and the return to in-person instruction. As students have returned to campus, the number of those in isolation have steadily decreased, going from a high of 700 students to around 200 as of Thursday morning, Drell said.
Drell also highlighted recently announced steps taken to enhance affordability, such as a series of one-time grants for early-career, pre-tenure faculty with financial needs. She asked faculty members to encourage junior colleagues to make a request if they feel they need the help.
Dustin Schroeder, assistant professor of geophysics, said that, as a pre-tenure faculty, he wanted to thank “everyone who designed both the affordability and the COVID mitigating measures … not a lot of this body are pre-tenure faculty, but in the spaces filled with us, it was profoundly impacting and meant an incredible amount.”
Additionally, Tessier-Lavigne took time to honor longtime Stanford philanthropist and Silicon Valley real estate developer John Arrillaga, who died Jan. 24 at 84.
“John helped shape Silicon Valley as we know it today,” Tessier-Lavigne said. “He left a huge mark here at Stanford through philanthropic activities that lasted more than half a century. It touched every corner of our campus.”
In other action, the Faculty Senate heard memorial resolutions for Gordon Bower, James Fox and Thomas Kane.
Bower, the Albert Ray Lang Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, died June 17, 2020, at age 87.
Fox, an associate professor of anthropology who specialized in the history of linguistics and Native American languages, died Aug. 7, 2019. He was 75.
Kane, 94, professor emeritus of applied mechanics and mechanical engineering, died Feb. 16, 2019.
The full minutes of the senate meeting will be available on the Faculty Senate website.