Baylor

Baylor international students march during this year’s homecoming parade. Students, faculty and staff reported “generally positive perceptions of the campus climate,” a survey found, but African-American and non-Christian students reported a less-welcoming climate.

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte, file

Baylor University students, faculty and staff have concerns about a lack of diversity and opportunity for all on campus, though most reported a positive overall experience, according to wide-ranging study the university published last week.

Overall, students surveyed rated the campus climate a 4.1 out of 5, though African-American students gave lower marks. African-American students gave a 3.4, multiracial students gave a 3.7 and Asian students gave a 3.8. Students who are agnostic or hold no specific religious identity also gave lower marks than Christian students, according to a summary of results.

Students are not satisfied with diversity in academic settings and residence halls, the survey found, nor did they rate Baylor high on inclusiveness or political and ideological diversity.

The President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, which was launched two years ago, worked on the study, and President Linda Livingstone plans to reconstitute a similar advisory group to address issues identified in the survey, she wrote in a post about the results.

“While a significant number of responses demonstrate favorable experiences and areas of strength for the University, there are many areas in which Baylor can improve and create an even more welcoming, inviting and supportive environment,” Livingstone wrote.

This semester, 6.7 percent of Baylor’s 14,316 undergraduate students are African-American, 8.7 percent are Asian, 15.5 percent are Hispanic and 63.6 percent are white.

The study also included focus groups, and Latino students, more than African-American or Asian students, shared stories of discriminatory or excluding classroom behavior, according to the summary of results. Minority students believe Baylor gives preference to mostly white fraternities and sororities, “to the point that multicultural organizations feel invisible on campus.”

Still, all students in the focus groups reported they are proud to be studying at Baylor. Students rated faculty helpfulness and belief in their students’ potential to succeed a 4.2, the survey found.

Students, faculty and staff attending the focus groups generally agreed Baylor is not addressing the concerns of LGBT and non-Christian student and that those groups should be formally recognized, according to the survey.

Faculty reported a good overall campus climate with a rating of 4. However, the faculty also hope for more diversity in their ranks. They rated Baylor’s effort to recruit a diverse faculty at 3 and its efforts to retain a diverse faculty a 3.4.

“It is believed that the lack of representation among faculty sends a message for women and minorities to not bother applying to Baylor, the work environment is not safe or welcoming, and faculty are primarily interested in hiring other faculty who look like them,” according to the summary.

Baylor employs 1,103 full-time faculty members. 84.8 percent of the group is white, 5.9 percent is Asian, 3.9 percent is Hispanic and 2.4 percent is African-American.

Survey results also reveal a perception that the tenure process is tilted against minority faculty.

Women and nonwhite faculty members perceive gender and race discrimination as larger problems than white men on the faculty do. Promotion decisions, opportunities for advancement and allocation of space and equipment received low satisfaction ratings among faculty.

Since shortly after starting as president in June, Livingstone has pushed a goal of propelling Baylor to tier-one research status. Faculty members are proud Baylor has kept its Christian mission and worry the focus on research status could make the university more secular, according to the survey.

Staff reported similar concerns about diversity. They gave a 2.7 for racial and ethnic diversity within their units and a 3.4 for equitable recruitment, resource allocation and promotion universitywide.

Staff also reported fear that human resources professionals would retaliate against people who make reports, according to the report. Still, staff members indicated, overall, they “do not feel very isolated and rarely experience bullying or intimidating behavior.”

Phillip has covered higher education for the Tribune-Herald since November 2015.

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