Surveys show majority of campus satisfied with DEI climate


Surveys measuring the climate related to diversity, equity and inclusion at the University of Michigan show that a majority of the community — 72 percent — is satisfied with the climate on the Ann Arbor campus.

A majority of students, faculty and staff believe the institution is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. A majority also say they feel they are valued and say they belong, and are growing and thriving at the university.

However, these positive experiences with the U-M campus are not equally distributed across the institution. In general, members of traditionally marginalized groups across race, sex, sexual orientation, age, ability status and national origin experience the campus less positively than members of traditional majority groups.

In particular, females and underrepresented minorities are less satisfied with the climate and have less positive experiences on campus than others.

The findings are informed by data from three sample surveys of a total of 8,500 students, faculty and staff, which U-M conducted last fall to capture perspectives and experiences related to diversity, equity and inclusion on campus.

“Although we know that many in our community recognize our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, this survey provides information that is critical in helping us to better serve members of the U-M family who have experienced our community more negatively,” says President Mark Schlissel.

“The purpose of doing these surveys was to get an honest and rigorous assessment of our campus climate. That honesty is critical to our ability to understand and to improve our campus environment.”

The data create a benchmark by which to measure change over time and will inform DEI efforts, some of which are already underway.

The surveys asked a range of questions about demographics, perceptions of the campus climate and the DEI climate, interactions with other members of the U-M community and experiences of discrimination at U-M.

“As a result of the high quality of the data, the surveys provide better estimates than ever before of the composition of U-M students, faculty and staff on several variables, including race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, abilities and political beliefs,” says Robert Sellers, vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.

For example, when it comes to religious background, the largest group of students — 39 percent — identify as being agnostic, atheist or having no religious background. The largest religious identity group for staff (43 percent) and for faculty (28 percent) was Christian.

Underrepresented minorities, especially African Americans, consistently report having the least positive experiences compared to any other social-identity group on campus.

For example, 62 percent of undergraduate underrepresented minority students and 55 percent of underrepresented minority faculty said they are satisfied with the campus climate, compared with 72 percent of the overall U-M community. Among faculty, those identifying as Hispanic or Latinx are significantly more likely to report feeling neutral, unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with the climate than all other ethnicities.

For underrepresented minority staff, 46 percent of staff identifying as African American said they are satisfied with the campus climate. That compares with 58 percent of those who identified as Middle Eastern or North African, and 63 percent of staff identifying as Hispanic or Latinx.

Across the U-M community, females, members of the LGBTQ+ communities, or those with a disability are among other traditionally marginalized groups that have less positive experiences on campus than members of traditionally majority groups.

For example, students with disabilities were 145 percent more likely than students without a disability to report feeling neutral, unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with the climate. LGBTQ+ students were 59 percent more likely than heterosexual students to report feeling neutral, unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with the climate.

The survey also asked about discrimination. Approximately 17 percent of the U-M community said it felt discriminated against on campus in the past 12 months. Gender and race were the most frequent reasons students, faculty and staff reported experiencing discrimination. Undergraduate students also said political orientation was a leading reason they were discriminated against.

Members of minority groups were significantly more likely to report experiencing discrimination. For example, 51 percent of African-American staff said they experienced at least one discriminatory event as a result of race in the past 12 months.

Among faculty, 41 percent of females said they experienced at least one discriminatory event as a result of gender in the past 12 months.

For students, 48 percent of those with disabilities said they experienced at least one discriminatory event as a result of their ability status in the past 12 months.

“The results show that certain populations of the U-M community report feeling less welcomed and having less positive experiences on campus than what we strive for as an institution. We are taking steps to improve the climate for these groups as well as for the campus community overall,” Sellers says.

Some of the DEI efforts currently underway that address the findings include:

• Making campus facilities more accessible to all, including those with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ communities.

• Better coordination and greater awareness of the university’s bias response resources that are directly relevant to the findings of reports of experiencing discriminatory incidents.

• Initiatives to further diversify the student body such as the Urban School Initiative, the Native American Student Initiative, Wolverine Pathways and the Go Blue Guarantee.

• The Inclusive Teaching Initiative designed to equip faculty with more resources and skills for making U-M classrooms more inclusive and effective.

• Providing staff members with extensive professional development experiences designed to help them develop the skills necessary to contribute to and thrive in a diverse community.

• Efforts to include faculty and staff’s efforts around DEI in their annual performance review process.

The surveys were designed by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, with assistance from two advisory committees and experts from the Institute for Social Research. An outside vendor was hired to conduct the study in order to ensure confidentiality in survey responses.

The surveys were of random samples of 3,500 students, 3,500 staff and 1,500 faculty designed to adequately represent the U-M community. The surveys used a special two-phase design to better represent the full diversity of the community and produced high response rates.

The reports represent a small piece of the full set of data collected by the surveys which will be available online for use by the U-M community. There will also be funding opportunities for students, faculty and staff to dive deeper into the data through targeted projects.

“We are just scratching the surface on what we can learn about our community. There is still much more analysis that will be done,” Sellers notes, adding that community meetings to continue to explore the findings are scheduled in the weeks ahead.

Also currently underway are separate census surveys, also designed by U-M, open to participation from the entire campus community on the topic of DEI. The census surveys capture data from students, faculty and staff that will be used to inform planning efforts at the school, college or unit level.



  1. CristiEllen Zarvas
    on November 3, 2017 at 8:44 am

    While the title of this article may be true, I feel it was a poor choice given that the data (as the subtitle suggests) shows that women, POC, and the LGBTQ+ community still feel targeted or uncomfortable on campus.

    • Jason Gilmore
      on November 3, 2017 at 12:32 pm


    • Haley B
      on November 3, 2017 at 1:18 pm

      Seconded. The fact that 40% of female staff and 51% percent of African-American staff have experienced discrimination in the past year should be the headline news here. Those numbers are unacceptable.

      • Chizell Fuller
        on November 3, 2017 at 2:22 pm

        The story title is disrespectful.

    • Natasha Williams
      on November 5, 2017 at 12:58 am

      Yes, very true !

    • David Bleckley
      on November 6, 2017 at 8:45 am


  2. Sayyed Sohrab
    on November 3, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Absolutely!- when did DEI become an issue of the “majority”? Majority would have not been a majority, were things not done to their taste- it was the “minorities issue” from the get go!

  3. Carly Y
    on November 4, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Did you notice the minor mention of Asians, do you know why? It’s because there is an Asian quota for application acceptance as students as well as staff. Look around, how many Asian staff are there? My friend recently left a job at the central IT group where you would there would be plenty of Asians, and they are all getting run out. Everyone one of them. That is why the percentage of dissatisfaction is low with Asians, they aren’t even allowed to be attending or employed to even be a voice! At least minorities are available to voice their dissatisfaction. Asians have been reduced and eliminated!

  4. Xiao Yun
    on November 4, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    Yes, it’s true. Several of my friends left the central IT group because Asians are not welcome. Also are screened out and told that extra security checks are needed even if they have Us citizenship or green cards. If they don’t work there, then they can’t voice that they are not treated well, hence the fact there are so few Asians that are dissatisfied. They don’t work there or have been marginalized.

    • Penny Y
      on November 8, 2017 at 11:07 pm

      This is very common I had heard about the two central IT groups. The worst is ITS, it does not welcome Asian or Hispanics people at all. My friend who worked there said her supervisor told her that all Asians look alike so she will call them all by the same name. Then said to Hispanic coworker that she is lucky her kind has found such good office work. What does mean by her kind? She has a good degree, she should have the work!

  5. Rajan Dewar
    on November 7, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Such irresponsible reporting is inflaming our community.

  6. Saif Mohamed
    on November 8, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    Powerful societal impact must elevate diversity to include all colors and not just those who are African American. True diversity means that everyone matters and we are a university base on merit where the playing field should be level. We should admit based on a randomized number so no demographic or personally identifiable information is used to allow access to the U as students and staff. Let our abilities speak for us.

  7. University Record
    on November 11, 2017 at 8:44 am

    A comment was removed because it violated the Record’s comment guidelines, which can be found at

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