University plans focus groups to gather diversity feedback – TrevEchoes Online

By Grace Beckner

Chief Editor

The university is preparing to begin hosting student focus groups by the end of October to continue the conversation started by a campus climate survey sent out in April.

“The main focus was trying to figure out the things that we need to keep working on to create an environment of belonging for everyone,” said Terrence Schofield, associate vice-rector for mission excellence and leadership. reconciliation.

Surveys were emailed to all traditional undergraduate students last spring to address student experiences within the Trevecca culture around diversity, equity and inclusion, Allison said. Buzard, program director and assistant professor of social work.

Information gathered from the survey and focus groups will be used to develop training for staff, faculty and students.

“It’s really an act of preparing students, preparing teachers, and preparing the community,” Schofield said. “Because God has blessed us with so many people from different places and spaces, we must now prepare ourselves to experience this in a community of belonging.”

The administration was aiming for a 20% turnout of the traditional undergraduate student population to complete the survey, Schofield said. 22% of students ended up taking the survey, which equates to about 400 people.

Faculty, staff and administration were also given the opportunity to respond to the survey, and approximately 55% of them completed the form.

Selah Torralba, student director for inclusion and belonging, said the students she spoke to found it formative and helpful to have a channel to share their experiences where they could go into details without being singled out.

“I think overall it allowed the students to honestly share a lot of privacy and, in turn, helped the data be accurate,” Torralba said.

Buzzard said the survey results mirrored what she heard in conversations with her students, but seeing the data was always both a sobering and illuminating experience.

“There’s this intention to get out of a reactionary place, into a place of intentional systemic healing, and I think there’s this commitment to doing things right and well, and then associated with that there’s also a sense of urgency,” Buzard said. . “I feel like this data is sobering, illuminating and I think it sparks a lot of conversations.”

Schofield said he hopes the survey will be seen as an opportunity for students to say where they stand. With focus groups, Schofield wants to extract the details of the investigation, define the real meaning and find concrete elements to work on.

“It’s not a diagnostic tool, the survey is not there to tell us what the problem is,” he said. “The survey is about giving people an opportunity to speak, and so when you watch this you already know you’re going to have a lot of opinions.”

Trevecca plans to hire moderators from outside the university to run the focus groups. Schofield said his team is already developing the questions that will be asked.

“With a focus group, when it’s well organized, people have the opportunity to share their stories in front of each other,” Buzard said. “I think it’s going to amplify, bring to light, bring stories to the questions that we still have unanswered in the investigation.”

Participants in the focus groups will be selected on a voluntary basis, Schofield said.

Torralba said she wants to encourage students to come to focus groups as themselves and to remember that this data is meant to serve them.

“I would say to students, this is for you, so share as long as you feel safe,” Torralba said. “But also share as much as it suits you and honors your experience, because something I’ve noticed in myself is the tendency to try to downplay my experience when I’m asked to share, and I think the Unique opportunity the survey and focus groups give is truly valuable.

After the first round of student focus groups this fall, staff focus groups are expected to take place during the spring semester.

“We try to diagnose, so we take our time diagnosing,” Schofield said. “We want this place to be a place to belong, so it’s really important that we take our time and work through the system.”

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