New My Experience survey seeks better understanding of campus climate

MyExperience survey

From now through May faculty, staff and students will be asked to take part in the MyExperience survey. (UC Berkeley image by Hulda Nelson)

A wide-ranging survey on campus climate starts today, and students, staff and faculty are encouraged to weigh in about Berkeley’s current efforts in pursuit of equity, inclusion and community building.

The My Experience survey, the first Berkeley campus climate survey since 2013, is designed to uncover opinions on ways to improve the campus experience. It can be accessed here.

Take the survey

Students, staff and faculty should click here to contribute their perspective.

“To be most effective in improving the climate here, we need to understand what it is,” Oscar Dubón, vice chancellor for equity and inclusion, says. “We’re hoping to get as big a return from everybody as possible. The bigger the response, the more we know.”

Those who took the survey the last time will find more questions have been added about basic needs. Insecurity about food, shelter and financial security is on the rise for students and employees, in part because most of them live in the expensive Bay Area.

The topic of basic needs “has become a lot more visible in this survey,” Andrew Eppig, a Berkeley institutional research analyst who is leading the shepherding of the project, says. “We want to learn more about (it) in a full campus context. We’ve looked at (the issue) before, but only in a student context.

“We’ve never used a survey to look at…how faculty and staff are experiencing the rise in the cost of living. We certainly know, anecdotally, that some of our faculty and staff are facing hardships around food and housing security. This is one way to understand this more comprehensively.”

Dubón points out that, while it’s important to see where the university needs to improve, survey results hopefully will also highlight many of the positive aspects of the Berkeley campus climate.

“What you will find in the survey is the combination of following up from last time and trying to find out where the places are on campus where positive things are happening that we can share with the rest of the campus,” he says.

“The new topics around basic needs and wellness we can really dive into. Those topics are crucial to make sure the campus continues to thrive. We need to understand why we are doing well and how we can improve that, too.”

The survey questions, which should take 30 to 40 minutes to complete, but that can be done in small segments, have been crafted over the last 18 months with input from across the campus. The survey will be open for two months.

And in hopes of getting as much feedback from as many sections of the campus population as possible, Eppig says survey respondents will have complete anonymity.

“We will look at responses over different groups,” Eppig says. “We will see how students differ from faculty and staff. We’ll see results broken out by race, by gender, by ethnicity, by a whole bunch of different slices.”

Each of those “slices” are groups broken down by age, education, job, race, gender, ethnicity and other factors.

“At the same time, we want to protect people in what has to be a confidential survey,” Eppig says. “If there are fewer than 10 people in any group, those are going to be redacted so that people can be protected. We want to protect privacy.”

Each My Experience survey respondent can opt to enter a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card and a number of other prizes.

The overall 2013 survey saw a 25 percent return in responses. The number was a little lower for undergraduates, and it was highest among staff.

While almost everyone on campus has a email address, there are some employees who have minimal use of email. For them, the survey will be available in their work areas on paper in English, Spanish and Chinese. The online survey will be available in English only.

Survey results are expected in September.