There are very few times when getting a 70 percent is good. If you get a 70 percent on a biology exam then sure, chalk that up as a win. But if a surgeon only put back 70 percent of your organs, you are in trouble. Or if you go to a party and only 70 percent of the people there are vibing, then the party probably has some bad vibes. A car where only 70 percent of the tires works is a bad analogy because those fractions don’t work out. Basically, you shouldn’t really want a 70. When the University does a survey and only 70 percent of the people on campus feel comfortable, that’s a very bad sign.
Even if 70 percent is a majority, the status of the uncomfortable minority is much more important. Specifically, it matters a lot who the uncomfortable minority is. Sadly, yet perhaps unsurprisingly, the uncomfortable minority on campus are the minorities: ethnic and racial. Oh, and the women are uncomfortable too. Oh, and the LGBT people. Wait, are the only comfortable straight white men? Well, no, because low-income students are less comfortable too. So are students with disabilities. Meaning, the higher-income, able-bodied, straight white men are the only people who are chilling. This is something to be ashamed of.
It’s okay to be ashamed sometimes. I’m ashamed that one time in high school I skipped class to listen to a new Kanye West album. You should own up to your shame. It’s good karma. The University needs to own up to these shameful results. Treating it even in a neutral scientific-way is a disservice to those who need their discomfort to create some outrage.
To the credit of those who presented the findings, they acknowledged that the results were often not ideal. For example, Sue Rankin, of Rankin and Associates who conducted the survey, presented the statistic 21 percent of students personally experienced hostile or exclusionary conduct. Nevada Today reported that Rankin acknowledged that while this percentage was lower than in some other universities, it was still not okay. You’re right Sue, it’s not okay. It feels not-okay enough that people should be demonstrating and holding marches and stuff about it. It feels so not-okay that I want constant updates on what the University is doing to fix it, and how they are fixing it, and for who they are fixing it, and why they think these shortcomings exist in the first place.
Look, I know that running a University where everyone is comfortable is tough. I know I couldn’t do it. I can barely run a group chat with 17 people, let alone run a school of 17,000 undergrads. That doesn’t make these numbers not-appalling. The 30 percent of our peers who are struggling deserve better. The narrative of this report can’t be centered around the happy people. University officials should be in tears or something, or maybe wearing bags over their faces. Not because they’re not trying, but because the results are shameful anyway. Maybe it will take years of small improvements before the campus climate is more tolerable for everyone, but until then it’s shame time.
As students we hear a lot about initiatives the campus takes to promote and protect diversity and a comfortable student body. To that end, we rarely hear if these initiatives are working and/or to what degree they are effective. The latest campus climate report should be eye-opening for people. Questions need to be raised about the effectiveness of strategies currently in place, for which groups they are being effective, and if progress is being made fast enough. Student comfort on campus for all students of all backgrounds is obviously a priority, and hopefully next year the results won’t be so disappointing.
Vincent Rendon can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @vincesagebrush.