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The Lehigh Survey

To foster an inclusive campus community, free from harassment and discrimination, it is essential to assess the state of the University’s climate. As part of our voluntary agreement with the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education, Lehigh launched its first climate survey in ten years in the fall of 2015.

Going above and beyond the minimum requirements of the agreement, a group of faculty members created a survey instrument specific to the University’s culture and circumstances. The result is a wealth of data that not only documents the rate of experiences of bias and exclusion but also provides pathways of understanding to help the University address the causes of harmful behaviors.

Overall, 42% of Lehigh students, faculty, and staff completed the survey, which included multiple choice and open-ended questions. Quantitative and qualitative analysis of the data pointed to major themes that were unique to each constituent group. Below we share those themes (as formulated by the Office of Institutional Research). In addition, each section includes recommendations for action based on the survey data developed by the Council for Equity and Community as well as the status of those recommendations as reported by the General Counsel’s Office. The recommendations listed below are not meant to reflect an order of priority.

Students walking on campus

Students

Thirty-six percent of the undergraduate and graduate student body took the survey and shared some insightful and detailed feedback. 

Read more about themes, recommendations and status >

Faculty member writing on chalkboard

Faculty

Fifty-three percent of faculty took the survey and provided feedback and shared observations regarding traditional gender norms and power dynamics.

Read more about themes, recommendations and status >

Staff serving food

Staff

Sixty-five percent of Lehigh staff members took the survey and specifically highlighted ways in which the campus climate impacts professional advancement and employee relations.

Read more about themes, recommendations and status >

Window

Reporting Behaviors and Attitudes

The survey examined whether and how campus community members reported incidences of harassment, diiscrimination and other unwelcome behavior.

Read more >

The Lehigh Survey: Students

The following themes emerged through qualitative analysis of open-ended comments from the Lehigh Survey. For representative comments and deeper context, read more here* >

* Access requires authentication with a valid Lehigh AFS ID and password. (Your AFS ID and password are those used to access your email account, or to log into the Network Server.)

Major Themes:

  • Groups tend to self-isolate and other perceptions regarding social alienation.
  • The Greek system perceived to associate strongly with discriminatory behaviors.
  • Traditional gender norms are strictly observed and being taken advantage of.
  • Sexual orientation is a less visible form of diversity.
  • Conformity to fit the Lehigh norm dominates the social landscape.
  • There are divisions by socioeconomic backgrounds, financial status and material possessions.
  • Obstacles to inclusion stem from the homogenous environments students come from.
  • We should address diversity through the admissions process and other student suggestions.
  • People are afraid to say something offensive and awareness of prejudices.
  • Offensive language and stereotypes are not taken seriously.
  • Lehigh overcompensates to make people feel comfortable.
  • There is fear of backlash for being a member of the majority.

Recommendations:

  • 1. Broaden, expand, and publicize opportunities for increasing education and developing skills on topics relating to diversity and inclusion
    • The CEC's Education and Dialogue sub-committee sponsored four events called Tackling Tough Topics Together in the fall 2016 semester open to all members of the campus community that modeled the use of the VISIONS' Guidelines for Effective Dialogue. An audit of all University diversity and inclusion related programs, trainings, and educational opportunities was conducted in order to determine where additional efforts can and should be focused to reinforce programming, training, and education efforts that are already in place. In order to achieve greater coordination of these efforts, a meeting took place in May 2016, coordinated by the CEC, with various diversity and inclusion working groups from around the University to learn what the groups are doing and what can be done to coordinate efforts.
  • 2. Consider appointment of a Vice President for Equity and Community who would serve as the chief diversity officer and who would have a significant role in implementing these recommendations and in developing additional recommendations, and would provide constant leadership for the diversity and inclusion initiatives to enrich the campus climate
    • Lehigh engaged an outside search firm to develop a position profile and develop a pool of high quality candidates through a collaborative process involving numerous campus stakeholders. The initial search process took place in summer 2016, with finalists visiting campus during the fall semester. In January 2017, Lehigh announced the appointment of Dr. Donald Outing to this inaugural role. Dr. Outing assumed his role on February 1, 2017.
  • 3. Continue publicizing options for reporting conduct that is inconsistent with The Principles of our Equitable Community1 (such as harassment and discrimination), ensuring to the extent possible that reporters are protected from adverse consequences (e.g. retaliation)
    • The University continues to explore creative ways to publicize options for reporting harassment and discrimination. The University’s policies and procedures for responding to incidents of harassment and discrimination, contained in the Student Code of Conduct and the Policy on Harassment & Non-Discrimination, are currently under review in anticipation of the upcoming 2016-2017 academic year. One aspect of the review includes whether changes to the provisions regarding retaliation are necessary. In order to make that determination, the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator benchmarked retaliation provisions at similarly situated colleges and universities to determine if changes may be made to the University’s current policies to further reduce fears of retaliation in pursuing and/or participation in the reporting process.
  • 4. Review, analyze, and break down climate survey data to identify themes, trends, and correlations.
    • The Office of Institutional Research took responsibility for breaking down and interpreting the qualitative (open-ended) data generated by the 2015 survey. The result of this work are the major themes outlined above. In addition, the faculty research team that developed the survey has continued to delve into the data in order to refine the survey for future years and to look for the social and psychological levers of bias and harassment that are both universal and unique to Lehigh.

The Lehigh Survey: Faculty

The following themes emerged through qualitative analysis of open-ended comments from the Lehigh Survey. For representative comments and deeper context, read more here * >

* Access requires authentication with a valid Lehigh AFS ID and password. (Your AFS ID and password are those used to access your email account, or to log into the Network Server.)

Major Themes:

  • Traditional gender norms and expectations still impact the work of female faculty.
  • There are power dynamics and personality conflicts between faculty, staff and administrators.
  • The Greek system is perceived to associate strongly with discriminatory behaviors.
  • There is distrust with the administration’s desires to promote real positive change.
  • There are obstacles to inclusion stem from the homogenous environments students come from.
  • People are afraid to say something offensive and awareness of prejudices.

Recommendations:

  • 1. Adopt well-defined hiring practices that embed The Principles of our Equitable Community and the expectation that hiring plans serve the goals established for creating and retaining a diverse and inclusive faculty
    • The role of diversity in hiring practices and the faculty search process was discussed in a May 2016 “Lessons Learned” program. This program is an annual series of meetings sponsored by the Vice Provost for Academic Diversity and the ADVANCE Office (whose work focuses on the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields) to review the academic year’s faculty search committee process and to gather feedback on the process from search committee members and coordinators who support these searches. Two sessions were held for search committee members with an additional session scheduled specifically for coordinators who support the searches.
  • 2. Establish and reiterate the expectations of all members of the Lehigh community as stated in The Principles of our Equitable Community
    • The Principles of our Equitable Community are now included with all employment offer packages. This fall, a campaign to promote the Principles was conducted during Unity Week on campus, including posters and a series of social media posts.

      During the Spring 2017 semester, a series of dinner dialogue events entitled "Living the Principles" are being held at the President's residence to make Lehigh's principles more concrete and actionable. General topics include rejection of discrimination, academic freedom, the right to think and speak, and the dignity in all of us. These opportunities are open to staff attendance as well. More activities are currently in the planning stage.
  • 3. Explore implementation of mandatory management training in diversity and inclusion principles for newly hired or promoted supervisors
    • The Human Resources Office has launched a new Career Enrichment curriculum that includes a track specifically for new and promoted supervisors. Supervisory training within this track includes Inclusion Insights, a program in self-discovery about how our experience drives our assumptions in order to develop awareness of our potential blind spots regarding issues of diversity and inclusion.
  • 4. Review, analyze, and break down climate survey data to identify themes, trends, and correlations
    • The Office of Institutional Research took responsibility for breaking down and interpreting the qualitative (open-ended) data generated by the 2015 survey. The result of this work are the major themes outlined above. In addition, the faculty research team that developed the survey has continued to delve into the data in order to refine the survey for future years and to look for the social and psychological levers of bias and harassment.
  • 5. Consider appointment of a Vice President for Equity and Community who would serve as the chief diversity officer and who would have a significant role in implementing these recommendations and in developing additional recommendations, and would provide constant leadership for the diversity and inclusion initiatives to enrich the campus climate
    • Lehigh engaged an outside search firm to develop a position profile and develop a pool of high quality candidates through a collaborative process involving numerous campus stakeholders. The initial search process took place in summer 2016, with finalists visiting campus during the fall semester. In January 2017, Lehigh announced the appointment of Dr. Donald Outing to this inaugural role. Dr. Outing assumed his role on February 1, 2017.
  • 6. Continue publicizing options for reporting conduct that is inconsistent with The Principles of our Equitable Community (such as harassment and discrimination) and ensuring, to the extent possible, that reporters are protected from adverse consequences (e.g. retaliation)
    • The University continues to explore creative ways to publicize options for reporting harassment and discrimination. The University’s policies and procedures for responding to incidents of harassment and discrimination, contained in the Student Code of Conduct and the Policy on Harassment & Non-Discrimination, are currently under review in anticipation of the upcoming 2016-2017 academic year. One aspect of the review includes whether changes to the provisions regarding retaliation are necessary. In order to make that determination, the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator benchmarked retaliation provisions at similarly situated colleges and universities to determine if changes may be made to the University’s current policies to further reduce fears of retaliation in pursuing and/or participation in the reporting process. The EOCC engaged an outside consultant to present to a group of staff members in September 2016 about retaliation specifically, discussing what is considered retaliation and how we can address it.

The Lehigh Survey: Staff

The following themes emerged through qualitative analysis of open-ended comments from the Lehigh Survey. For representative comments and deeper context, read more here * >

* Access requires authentication with a valid Lehigh AFS ID and password. (Your AFS ID and password are those used to access your email account, or to log into the Network Server.)

Major Themes:

  • Awareness of power dynamics and the perceived lack of value of staff – Staff-faculty interactions.
  • Awareness of power dynamics and the perceived lack of value of staff – Other campus interactions.
  • Traditional gender norms and expectations still impact the work of female staff.
  • People are afraid to say something offensive and awareness of prejudices.
  • There is a fear of backlash for being a member of the majority.

Recommendations:

  • 1. Explore implementation of mandatory management training in diversity and inclusion principles for newly hired or promoted supervisors
    • The Human Resources Office has launched a new Career Enrichment curriculum that includes a track specifically for new and promoted supervisors. Supervisory training within this track includes Inclusion Insights, a program in self-discovery about how our experience drives our assumptions in order to develop awareness of our potential blind spots regarding issues of diversity and inclusion.
  • 2. Create increased dialogue and engagement on diversity and inclusion related issues in the evaluation of supervisors
    • Under exploration.
  • 3. Evaluate whether concerns about equity of pay are founded and, if so, develop plans for mitigating inequities
    •  Under exploration.
  • 4. Review, analyze, and break down climate survey data to identify themes, trends, and correlations
    • The Office of Institutional Research took responsibility for breaking down and interpreting the qualitative (open-ended) data generated by the 2015 survey. The result of this work are the major themes outlined above. In addition, the faculty research team that developed the survey has continued to delve into the data in order to refine the survey for future years and to look for the social and psychological levers of bias and harassment.
  • 5. Consider appointment of a Vice President for Equity and Community who would serve as the chief diversity officer and who would have a significant role in implementing these recommendations and in developing additional recommendations, and would provide constant leadership for the diversity and inclusion initiatives to enrich the campus climate
    • Lehigh engaged an outside search firm to develop a position profile and develop a pool of high quality candidates through a collaborative process involving numerous campus stakeholders. The initial search process took place in summer 2016, with finalists visiting campus during the fall semester. In January 2017, Lehigh announced the appointment of Dr. Donald Outing to this inaugural role. Dr. Outing assumed his role on February 1, 2017.
  • 6. Continue publicizing options for reporting conduct that is inconsistent with The Principles of our Equitable Community1 (such as harassment and discrimination), ensuring to the extent possible that reporters are protected from adverse consequences (e.g. retaliation)
    • The University continues to explore creative ways to publicize options for reporting harassment and discrimination. The University’s policies and procedures for responding to incidents of harassment and discrimination, contained in the Student Code of Conduct and the Policy on Harassment & Non-Discrimination, are currently under review in anticipation of the upcoming 2016-2017 academic year. One aspect of the review includes whether changes to the provisions regarding retaliation are necessary. In order to make that determination, the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator benchmarked retaliation provisions at similarly situated colleges and universities to determine if changes may be made to the University’s current policies to further reduce fears of retaliation in pursuing and/or participation in the reporting process. The EOCC engaged an outside consultant to present to a group of staff members in September 2016 about retaliation specifically, discussing what is considered retaliation and how we can address it.

Reporting Behaviors and Attitudes:

The survey captured information from students, faculty and staff regarding whether and how they chose to report incidences of harassment, discrimination and other unwelcome behavior. This information is shared to provide a better understanding of campus perceptions. For resources and guidelines for reporting such behavior, please go to the EEOC website.

  • Students are most likely to report to the University Police and/or the Dean of Students/Student Affairs office due to their familiarity, trust or comfort-level with particular people or offices.
  • Students are most likely not to report because of the perceived lack of severity of the incident or respecting the victim’s wishes not to report.
  • Faculty are most likely to report to their supervisor or department chair, the general counsel office, or a College Dean’s office in order to seek advice or gain some direction in knowing who to properly report the situation to.
  • Faculty are most likely not to report because either they want to respect the victim’s wishes not to report, they believe it is the victim’s responsibility to report, they are unclear whether the incident was actually discrimination and they lack enough information or evidence to make a valid claim.
  • Staff are most likely to report to human resources or a supervisor due to their familiarity, trust or comfort-level with that particular person or office or just because they want to seek advice or gain direction on how to properly report an incident.
  • Staff are most likely not to report because either they want to respect the victim’s wishes or they feel personally threatened or fear retaliation in the event they report an incident.
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Survey Timeline
  • October 2015: Launched survey to the campus community
     
  • November 2015: Closed survey
     
  • January 2016: Preliminary data was shared with the campus community
     
  • February 2016: Lehigh CEC convened to create recommendations
     
  • March 2016: Results shared with OCR at the DOE
     
  • Summer 2016: Qualitative analysis of survey data conducted
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  • Fall 2016: Individual presentations of data to various campus groups and departments
     
  • October 2016: Year 2 of The Lehigh Survey is launched