We often hear about campus climate, but what exactly is it?
Campus climate is a measure (real or perceived) of the campus environment as it relates to interpersonal, academic, and professional interactions. This includes events, messages, symbols, core beliefs, feelings, attitudes, and so much more that make Iowa State University a welcoming environment (or not) for everyone. All of these things can influence whether an individual or collective feels safe, listened to, valued, and treated fairly.
Last week, Student Government and the Division of Student Affairs co-sponsored a
campus town hall
, which gave students the opportunity to ask senior administrators questions on important campus issues and facilitate an open discussion on topics such as campus climate.
"A lot of this is partnership and not just Student Affairs or Diversity and Inclusion," said Martino Harmon, Senior Vice President for Student Affairs. "We're really trying to put messages out about what we stand for as institution... We need to set the climate and make sure we're communicating that."
Harmon discussed examples such as bringing back to the forefront the
Principles of Community
and establishing a
Campus Climate Response Team
- a cross functional effort between equal opportunity, the dean of students, ISU police, and several others departments to track incidents and respond effectively.
"In the past we weren't getting this right and weren't doing enough," said Jonathan Wickert, Senior Vice President and Provost. "One thing we're doing differently is meeting with students, faculty, and staff and listening; listen to their life stories and very hurtful experiences."
Cody Smith, Vice President of Student Government keeps his finger on the pulse for students and communicates with administrators.
"Our job is to find weak points and where students are struggling, then provide opportunities for students to voice their opinions," said Smith.
Harmon is determined for Iowa State to be the place where students want to be for strong well-being initiatives.
"What keeps me awake at night is the concern for student health, wellness, and safety," said Harmon. "There's nothing worse than knowing that students are suffering."
In December 2015 the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, led by Vice President Reg Stewart, was established at Iowa State. Over the past two years, Stewart has been working to bring campus units together to mobilize a collaborative process.
"There were areas where we were slow or didn't have flushed out like the multicultural liaison program in the police department," said Stewart. "We completely retooled the program and reframed it as engagement inclusion officers, which has increased from three to seven with a potential eighth officer."
In fact, there has been a 30% increase of officers on patrol, with an emphasis on large assemblies.
Creating a safe and inclusive environment where all members of the Iowa State community have the tools and resources they need to be successful is key to a positive
. To that end, the university distributed an online campus-wide survey where students, faculty, and staff were asked to anonymously share their thoughts and experiences as it relates to campus climate at Iowa State. Results of the survey will be shared in the spring.
This is one of the four overarching priorities of the university's
. Just as the development of the university's
was a community effort, so is the realization of our shared goals.