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March 02, 2016

Diversity engagement survey launched

Presidential Commission on Race and Diversity’s efforts to improve campus climate continue after president accepts initial report

Take the Diversity Engagement Survey by March 18

To complete the survey, click on the link found in an email you received from The subject line reads: Diversity Engagement Survey.

More information is available at

A survey asking faculty, staff, and students to gauge how included and valued they feel working and studying at the University is under way.

The Diversity Engagement Survey—which is open until March 18—is led by the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity, the Office of Human Resources, and the Medical Center Office of Inclusion and Culture Development. The confidential survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and will help identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement.

A separate survey assessing diversity engagement among students in Arts, Sciences & Engineering and in the Eastman School of Music was completed in February as part of the Presidential Commission on Race and Diversity.

After numerous meetings and eight town hall forums across the University, the commission submitted its initial report to President and CEO Joel Seligman at the end of January.

“The work of our Presidential Commission on Race and Diversity and the feedback I’ve heard at our town hall meetings on race and diversity are providing critical insight into the areas of University life where individuals are not feeling support and inclusivity, and how we can make important changes for the better,” Seligman wrote in a message to the University community last month.

The commission was established in November by Seligman in response to a three-page petition and list of demands students felt needed to be addressed to improve the racial climate on campus. One of the main topics of concern was the use of the social media app Yik Yak, on which people had anonymously posted threatening and racist comments.

The initial report recommends that Yik Yak be banned from use of the University wi-fi networks. Seligman did not support the ban but endorsed steps aimed at eliminating racist messages on Yik Yak.

Read more

The Presidential Commission on Race and Diversity’s initial report is available at

President and CEO Joel Seligman’s response to the report is posted at

Seligman accepted several initial recommendations offered in the report, including:

  • the implementation a bias-related incidents reporting program as part of the CARE system and the creation of a Bias-Related Incident Executive Team to coordinate responses or communications with the University community when necessary
  • the creation of a campaign to address racism on campus similar to last year’s national campaign “It’s on Us,” to combat sexual assault. An antiracism working group is launching the “We’re better than THAT” campaign, focusing on education programs throughout the campus and using video, the web, and social media
  • the establishment of a new Diversity Programming Fund open to groups of all races, religions, sexual orientations, or nationalities with a $30,000 initial budget coordinated by the Paul J. Burgett Intercultural Center
  • the expansion of staff support in the Paul J. Burgett Intercultural Center and additional enrichment fund support for the Office of Minority Affairs and the David T. Kearns Center.

The initial report focuses on addressing student concerns. Further recommendations with respect to students and to faculty and staff will be made in a final report after the faculty, staff, and student surveys are completed.

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