October 17, 2007

Kate Elliot
Communications Specialist

VSU Calls for Student, Personnel Views About Campus Diversity

VALDOSTA - Valdosta State University invites students and personnel to participate in an online survey about campus diversity at any time between November 5 and November 30.

The survey is the final stage of VSU’s first diversity audit to analyze attitudes and practices on campus in hopes of establishing a scholastically diverse institution that values all cultures, lifestyles and physical capacities.

The survey, which is offered online and in paper form, asks a series of 125 multiple-choice questions about perceptions of diversity on campus and VSU’s strengths and weaknesses in providing a diverse college experience. Maggie Viverette, director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Multicultural Affairs (EOP), said the questionnaire takes an average of 20 minutes to complete.

“We need absolutely everyone to participate in the survey of this groundbreaking audit,” said Viverette, who is helping to coordinate the campus audit. “With the information we gather from this survey, we can make great strides in creating a campus that is respectful of community members and values a diverse constituency.”

VSU’s Diversity Council, established in 2005 to implement long-term diversity initiatives on campus, is overseeing the assessment process. Viverette said the council is urging faculty to set aside time in class for students to complete the questionnare online or in paper format. The EOP office will make paper copies of the questionnaire for faculty who do not hold classes in rooms with computer access. Viverette said EOP staff will come to classrooms to collect completed questionnaries. Individual students and personnel may also request a paper copy, which will include an address where they can mail the completed questionnaire.

The National Multicultural Institute - the global firm that is conducting the three-month audit - created the online survey from qualitative and quantitative responses VSU community members expressed during telephone interviews and focus groups held in October. The NMI Web site states that the online questionnaire yields the most comprehensive data, which enables the company to make the most accurate recommendations for a strategic diversity plan.

“We were limited when it came to the number of people we could include in the focus groups and phone interviews,” Viverette said. “But the online survey allows everyone to have a voice, and hearing what this campus has to say about diversity is the only way we as an institution are going to move forward.”

Results from the online surveys will be available to the public in the spring of 2008.

Nationwide studies confirm the comprehensive benefits of campus diversity and culturally inclusive curriculum. The Association of American Colleges and Universities released data from 300 research studies that indicates diverse curriculum and racially-mixed student populations result in better retention, greater intellectual and social self-confidence and higher college grade point averages.

For more information about the audit, call VSU’s Office of Equal Opportunity Programs and Multicultural Affairs at (229) 333-5463 or review the diversity audit informational page at www.valdosta.edu/eopma/diversity/DiversityAudit2007.

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