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Senators and executives with Fresno State’s Associated Students Inc. vote during a meeting. All senators and executives sit on a variety of committees. Photo by Khlarissa Agee / The Collegian

Campus climate survey looks to aid ASI with ‘concrete data’

In an attempt to evaluate Fresno State’s campus climate, Associated Students, Inc. is conducting a national pilot survey developed by the Educational Benchmarking Institute.

Distributed randomly to 4,000 undergraduate students, the web-based EBI questionnaire called “Campus Climate, Safety, and Sexual Assault” covers a range of topics relevant to the university and its performance. EBI, an organization that provides in-depth assessment services to higher education institutions, has aided over 1,500 colleges in attempts to better understand their students’ experience.

The aim of the survey is to create concrete data for the ASI senate to use when making policy recommendations to campus administration – a way of being better informed about potential adjustments needed within programs and services.

“We really wanted to be able to support some of the stances or positions that ASI might take in the future,” said Tara Powers, the coordinator of ASI.

The survey results will also be made available to various university divisions and departments who are in need of specific data found within the questionnaire.

“Every person from the different departments is going to interpret the data differently and see where they need to modify their approach to certain programs, or reinforce what they’re doing right,” Powers said. “That’s why we want to share it. We want everybody to be able to take this and use it for their own purposes.”

Students were asked nearly 150 perception-based questions specific, rather than asking them about direct experiences. Areas include campus safety, sexual assault, policies and incidents, classroom environment and perceptions about peers, faculty, staff and administration.

Powers said ASI has been meeting with people across campus, sharing the research methodology with them in hopes that they can utilize and rely on the study’s results. Meetings have included those within the Title IX office, the Fresno State Police Department, the Women’s Resource Center and University Communications.

“This casts a wide net, and it’s asking a variety of different topics, from do you have a role model, to do you feel safe at night on campus,” Powers said.

One such example is data specifically relevant to the Services for Students with Disabilities department. For the sampling of students with disabilities, a separate branch of questions is offered concerning perception about accessibility services on campus.

Another advantage of the survey will come next semester; once other colleges have conducted the EBI questionnaire, institutions will be able to compare data against one another, Powers said.

“Next semester it will be put out to a lot of other schools nationally, and once that is done we will be able to compare ourselves to institutions, universities across the country, and see how we match up,” said Tim Ryan, the research assistant for ASI.

Compared to EBI’s target of 500 responses from the survey, ASI’s goal was to gather 800 responses – 20 percent of the sample size. As of Tuesday morning, 734 students had completed the survey.

“At this point, I think we already have statistically significant data based on the number of results we already have,” Ryan said.

The sampling pool of 4,000 students was generated with the help of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, with the only requirement being that students must be 18 before Oct. 1. The survey has been open since Oct. 27 and will close on Nov. 27.