UT administration reacts to student response

October 18, 2017

A student diversity and inclusion study conducted in April 2017 was met with controversy over findings earlier this semester when an article by The Independent Collegian found that students didn’t feel the survey was accurate.


Students cited the small sample size, diversity of those who took it and lack of collaboration as their reasons.


Member of Black Student Union and third-year communication major Isis Walker said she feels that UT is very segregated, with the many ethnic and cultural groups staying to themselves.


Other students, like Jamal Shaheen, a third-year professional sales and marketing major and president of the Muslim Student Association, said he doesn't feel like the survey had enough participation to accurately represent the student body.


According to the survey, of the 18,683 students enrolled at UT, only 1,135 students participated, and 82.2 percent of those students said they have a high feeling of inclusion. Only 4.49 percent of students said they did not.


“Of course, we wish every faculty, staff and student at UT would have participated in the survey; however, for a population our size, the response rate is considered statistically significant, allowing [Willie] McKether’s team to glean important information from the survey results,” wrote Meghan Cunningham, director of communications, in an email responding to the previous article.


The idea of the diversity and inclusion survey is to get all students’ thoughts and to hear what they're saying concerning diversity at the university, said McKether, vice president of diversity and inclusion.


“I always say to students, if there’s anything that they may feel like we missed, come have lunch, on me; let’s talk about it because I need to make sure that I maintain the pulse of what’s happening on campus with our students in particular,” McKether said. “The only way to make changes on campus is to hear your voices.”


The Office of Diversity and Inclusion took the student response and used that to create programs that help address the feelings of students who don’t feel included, he said.


To help students feel more included, McKether suggested a possible solution to get different students to work together to blend different backgrounds together.


All students need to voice their thoughts to help improve the issues of diversity so that the university can better help students in whatever possible, he said.


“We want to do the very best we can to make sure that students know we are listening. My door is always open,” McKether said.


It is also important that all students, faculty and staff feel included.

“Diversity should be everyone’s concern,” McKether said.



The Diversity and Inclusion survey will be conducted biannually, with the next being issued in the spring of 2019, with the hopes of seeing an increase in student participation in the survey and the feeling of inclusion amongst students on the university campus.


For our editorial about diversity and inclusion on campus, follow this link https://www.independentcollegian.com/single-post/2017/10/17/Better-ideas-for-better-results

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