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Friday, September 11, 2009

The Campus Climate: Free Essay

The Campus Climate - I. Background - The life and climate set out in a campus is a very environment that students, whether they like it or not, need to deal with. This fact is brought about by varying factors such as diverse ethnic orientation, the obvious gender and age differences as well as different sexual orientation, ideas and advocacies, income and social status differences, language and religious orientation variability that are inevitable among students. What is the current state of the campus climate to date? Are these factors causing so much differences among student helpful or them, or is it otherwise? How the educational institution participate in making the campus climate better and how do students get involved in this move?

Assessing the campus climate involves various examination of facts. These facts involve, but are not limited to, the above factors mentioned that compose the campus. Aside from students alone, faculty and staff of the educational institution where the campus is, are also responsible in making the campus environment better.

II. The Campus Climate
According to the Campus Climate Network Group, campus climate involves “behaviors within a workplace or learning environment, ranging from subtle to cumulative to dramatic, that can influence whether an individual feels personally safe, listened to, valued, and treated fairly and with respect.” Statistics-wise the climate in the campus is getting more and more varied, even in terms of ethnic orientation alone.

"The enrollment of minority students in higher education has increased over the past 30 years" (Fischer, 2007) From 1976 to 2000, the number of Black students enrolled in degree-granting institutions rose 14.9%, while Hispanic enrollment increased by 25.4% (Fischer, 2007: National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2002)

The major stakeholders of things related to campus climate are the students. Secondary are the faculty and staff of the institution and the institution itself. And campus climate gives a “sense of community, or the lack of it, is expressed and transmitted in many small events, in feelings about the attitudes exemplified in the minutiae of campus life and in perceptions about the fairness and supportiveness of others' behavior (Kramer & Weiner, 1994, p. 71). This can be viewed as both positive and negative for the students’ perspective. It is positive in a way that students are exposed in diversity of life and in the process, they are learning to deal with it. It can be negative however, when some students got traumatized with the effect of the treatments their fellow peers and students cast towards them and the feeling of unbelongingness and discrimination prevails.

III. Various Needs of Some Students
Ethnic, gender and sexual orientations are among the major factors affecting the campus climate. To students with these mentioned orientations, they have some particular needs during their campus life. In fact, there are criss-crossing results with regards to perspectives and opinions among various groups in the campus. Religion, for example, does not only discriminate other religions but it "was also a discriminating demographic variable for heterosexual students."(Waldo, 1998)

The institutions themselves, from educational institutions to the law making bodies have roles to play themselves in improving the entire situation with regards to campus climate. It is because of findings in some studies, according to Kameen and Justiz, (1988, p. 50), that there is “strong evidence that assessment programs which rely on standardized tests as sole measures of student ability, that "label" or "exclude" rather than assist students to acquire the necessary skills to complete college successfully, that do not support the teaching and learning process, and that are otherwise insensitive to bias will result in discrimination toward minority students.”

Although it is the student body themselves who make the big action, the role of community, the institution and those involved in drafting laws and rules for education cannot be put out in giving improvements to current status of various discriminated groups in campus.

IV. What To Do?
It may not be obvious as it seems but students have power in campus. It is their own world and they can have control over it if want to. No matter how the faculty and the educational institution itself propel students to abide to some rules or make a certain environment in the campus, it is still not effective if students would not have willing hearts and open minds as to how the things should go in the campus. This means that the campus climate is greatly influenced by students themselves, who are also the main stakeholders of whatever kind of campus climate they have.

Students who are knowledgeable enough and with broad minds have ease and no difficulty in adapting to various orientations in the campus. The best way for students to make the campus climate better, is to be receptive and be open to ideas. This sounds easier said than practiced though. However, there are organizations in campus that make things easier. This means that if a minority group or a certain race or ethnicity has an organization in school, this organization, since it is considered as a representative of the group, must network with each other. This means that one ethnic organization must build a healthy relationship with another ethnic organization. The members would then understand why it is being done and the members of the two organizations would have harmonious relationships as well when they see that the organizations themselves are also tied up.

Moreover, a healthy and unbiased information dissemination would also not hurt the organization or the entire group of students from minority or ethnic races. This involves combating the negative issues thrown upon them in a manner that does not hurt or insult other groups. A better and positive attitudes among students from this group of these groups are therefore encouraged. This means that friendliness to other races or ethnic groups in the campus are encouraged and any hostility is discouraged. Why? It is very important to note that "the racially intolerant campus climate has many consequences." (Marcus, Mullins, Brackett, Tang, Allen & Pruett, 2003) And sad to say, most of the consequences are actually negative to both sides of the coin. No one really benefits that much from discriminating others aside from hatred, limited set of friends and acquaintances and alienation – this is true even in the part of the one who discriminates. This is true be it regarding any orientation: religious, sexual, gender, income, age, ethnicity or anything else.

Since the greater distinction is between the whites and the minorities in the campus, the efforts must come from both directions as to the harmonization of relationships among students. And how? It was previously mentioned that organizations are a great help.

V. Conclusion
Campus climate is a complicated thing to deal with. Factors affecting the climate and the environment in the campus are so diverse that they are not easy to control. Actions however may be made in order to improve the climate and diminish difference among students. The best way to improve the campus climate is for the students themselves to act. The students are the main stakeholders of the happenings in the campus and they have the power to act on things and events or implement a culture that would improve the lives of most, if not all, of them in the campus setting.

Although the faculty and staff in the campus has roles too, the decision as to what climate be set in the campus are still reliant to the students. In this manner, only students, with the assistance of the institution through its governing rules, as well as the support of the faculty and staff of the educational institution, can make their campus experience a better one.

Fischer, M. J. (2007). Settling into Campus Life: Differences by Race/ethnicity in College Involvement and Outcomes. Journal of Higher Education, 78(2), 125+.

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