Selling Out With Chicken Sandwiches to Enhance Campus Climate

by Dr. Deidra Dennie - Chief Diversity Officer at Anne Arundel Community College / Mar 27, 2020

Yes, chicken sandwiches. If you take my campus-climate survey, you’ll have the opportunity to win a gift certificate to the dining hall or to Chick-Fil-A. And some lucky person, maybe two people, will receive a brand-new iPad. Everyone who participates will win something.

Why I am selling out my "research soul" for a few chicken sandwiches? Because the response rate of our student recipients for campus-climate surveys is a meager 3% (3.37% to be exact). That’s right—out of 11,000 students, I get 330 responses.

Now, maybe you’re thinking something like, “Why waste your time? If the students don’t care to respond, then perhaps things on campus aren’t so bad.” Sorry, but I disagree. In my role as chief diversity officer I’m responsible for monitoring the cultural pulse of the college, and I can tell you that in many ways we are dead on arrival with students.

Unfortunately, not all my students are feeling the love."

Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) is dedicated to responding to the needs of our diverse community. We choose to foster a campus climate that is equitable, accessible, and inclusive—one in which everyone belongs. Unfortunately, not all my students are feeling the love.

In February I conducted a campus-climate survey that focused on the following climate indicators:

Equity: Ensuring everyone has the resources they need to succeed, taking into consideration that social identifiers affect equality. This is an ideal and a goal, not a process.

Accessibility: Considering the design of products, services, and environments for people with disabilities.

Inclusion: Including with authenticity traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision and policymaking in a way that shares power.

Belonging: Having a meaningful voice and the opportunity to participate in the design of social and cultural structures. This means more than just being seen.

To better understand the campus climate at AACC, a tool was created that provides metrics for students’ experiences. The results will help shape the services and materials we provide to students and provide our space planners with real feedback on the accessibility issues our students face in our buildings and on campus.

Additionally, the data and recommendations should provide critical feedback to the college for continued outreach and service, which will build further trust with our students. This measure and more demonstrates that we are truly dedicated to an inclusive community.

Dr. Dennie's institution was one of five selected for the OCCRL Educational Leaders Equity-Centered Transformation (ELECT) Spark Grants Initiative Program. Learn more.