Belonging and Inclusion Campus Evaluation Survey announced

Administrators invite students, faculty and staff to participate in campus climate survey
Signs around campus have been promoting the survey, with the motto Your Wake. Your truth. Many trees. One forest.
Signs around campus have been promoting the survey, with the motto “Your Wake. Your truth. Many trees. One forest.”

Wake Forest students, faculty and staff were invited to complete the Belonging and Inclusion Campus Evaluation survey launched on Jan. 22. This is the second campus climate survey administered by Wake Forest — the first of which focused on sexual misconduct. This year’s survey will be open to submissions until Feb. 10.

According to Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion José Villalba, the survey centers on belonging on campus because administrators identified a limited amount of “base knowledge” at Wake Forest on the subject. 

“The primary goal is to gather baseline data on how individuals — as a whole — experience a sense of belonging and inclusion across our institution,” said Villalba. “It is also intended to give stakeholders a sense of where our strengths lie, and also where opportunities for improvement present themselves.” 

Unlike the last campus climate survey in 2022 that was solely open to students, faculty and staff are also able to participate this year. According to Student Body President Jackson Buttler, this change was made because, while sexual misconduct is more prevalent among students, the topic of belonging and inclusion stretches across campus. 

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“Belonging and inclusion touches every single member of this community,” said Buttler. “Any person who is a faculty member, staff or student is invited to take the survey. This issue is something that affects everyone, whereas the one on sexual misconduct was one that really focused on students.”

The university is partnering with external consultant Rankin Climate to conduct the survey, and individual submissions will remain anonymous. While completing the survey is not required for students, faculty or staff, administrators encouraged individuals to participate in a campus-wide email sent on Jan. 22. 

“I think [the theme] is important because as a person on campus and as a senior going through my four years, having a sense of belonging on campus is really important,” said senior Aman Khemlani. “Especially to someone who’s not in traditional social Greek life.” (Editor’s note: Khemlani is the Chief Justice of the Student Organization Judicial Assembly but is speaking in a personal capacity, not on behalf of the Student Government.)

Participants should expect the survey to last approximately 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the depth of their responses. The “procedures page” on the survey states that participants do not have to answer questions they do not want to, and questions beyond the first group in the Introduction section are optional.

Alongside multiple-choice and ranking-style questions, the survey provides space for individuals to expand upon their experiences and provide feedback to the university. 

“This survey is assessing belonging and inclusion through the lens of one’s own experiences and one’s own perceptions,” said Buttler, “and it also allows for individuals to offer suggestions for ways that the university could improve its campus climate as a way to really be community oriented and focused when we’re looking at what really needs to be done in a community as big as Wake Forest.”

[Student voices] matter, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.

— José Villalba, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion

According to the announcement email, the results of the survey are essential to Wake Forest’s Strategic Framework, and high participation rates are critical for receiving effective results. 

“The University’s Strategic Framework, launched in August 2023, lays out our aspiration to be a nationally recognized model for acting on our commitment to inclusive excellence as a powerful catalyst for learning and community strength,” the email reads. “The results of this survey will be essential to assessing our status and measuring progress in achieving a campus environment that recognizes individuals’ needs, abilities and potential. It is through our collective action that all can feel like they matter, belong, and thrive.”

Multiple incentives are being used to increase response rates — including tables in Benson University Center with items for students — and signs across campus.

“I don’t check my email that much,” said sophomore Luyz Martinez. “I think [as young adults] we pay attention to things that are tangible and that we can see day-to-day.”

Villalba expressed that student participation is essential, and the survey gives students the opportunity to speak to how national discourse about belonging and inclusion in communities manifests on campus. 

“[Student voices] matter, even if it doesn’t always feel that way,” Villalba said. “You may have seen the yard signs and stickers around campus promoting the survey: Your Wake. Your truth. Many trees. One forest. We understand that for many individuals on our campus, ‘campus climate’ is not the first thing that comes to mind when they wake up in the morning. But for others, it is a regular and constant concern.”

He continued: “And yet, regardless of one’s experience with belonging or inclusion across our institution, students are living through some of the most polarizing times in our nation’s history, compounded by global conflicts and humanitarian crises. This survey can help students speak to how these external issues are manifesting on campus, as well as what we can all do to improve the collective experiences of all students.”

Senior Emma Sabin emphasized the importance of the survey’s theme. She felt that Wake Forest can often cater to a certain type of person, specifically if they are white and upper-middle class. 

“If you need financial aid, are on scholarship or aren’t of that background, it can seem like you’re only used when it benefits the school,” Sabin said.

A predominantly white institution, Wake Forest’s undergraduate population is roughly 63% white, according to the 2023 data released by the Office of Institutional Research. This office also reports that only 10% of undergraduate students were awarded Pell Grants for the 2023-2024 school year.

With the survey’s focus being on inclusion and belonging, the survey seems like a step in the right direction to Khemlani — who participated in the survey and is optimistic about other students doing the same.

“I feel like by using the form you are able to get the student experience,” Khemlani said. “The school can make sure how it operates and the student engagement gives a sense of belonging for not just a smaller group of people but the greater student body.”

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