Study of Student Experiences of Diversity at Trinity

The Office of Institutional Research and Planning (IRP) recently conducted a series of extensive student surveys designed to accurately measure several components of diversity on campus.  While concerns about diversity on college campuses has grown significantly over the last several years – Trinity held campus-wide discussions to confront the issue in September – IRP used numerous representative survey instruments to scientifically examine the actual climate of race and class interaction at Trinity.

Specifically examined were questions regarding how frequently white students and students of color interact, students’ reported experiences and observations of racial harassment on campus, and the differences in satisfaction with campus social life between white and non-white students. Some of the surveys were conducted in coordination with other colleges and universities, permitting a comparison to similar schools such as Amherst, Carleton, Oberlin, Swarthmore, Wesleyan, and Williams. Data from the survey of all students of color at 19 schools, under the auspices of the Consortium on High Achievement and Success (CHAS), was especially crucial to the study. Trinity’s comparison schools for the CHAS survey were Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, Connecticut College, Hamilton and Vassar.

Some of the findings include:

  • A majority of Trinity students of color report “very often” studying, eating, and socializing with students from different backgrounds
  • Contact with students from a different ethnic background, for both white and non-white students, is similar at Trinity and our peer institutions, although both white and non-white students at Trinity report fewer contacts with students from different ethnic or religious backgrounds compared to students at peer schools. 
  • Trinity students of color report participating more in community service, intramural sports, political groups, Greek organizations, and ethnic student organizations than do students of color at peer institutions.
  • The majority of students on all campuses had neither experienced nor witnessed racial or class harassment. Most Trinity students of color felt they had also not experienced racial discrimination, although a majority had witnessed and/or experienced racial insensitivity.  The experiences and witnessing of harassment, discrimination, and insensitivity were more common at Trinity than at the peer schools.
  • About half as many Trinity students of color are satisfied with the campus climate compared to peer schools.

The PowerPoint version of this presentation is now available from the IRP, and the accompanying paper will be finished in early January 2004. Contact James Hughes for more information, the PowerPoint presentation, and/or the subsequent paper: james.hughes@trincoll.edu, 860-297-2376.

 

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