As promised, here are the preliminary results of my “Segregation and Integration at Wesleyan University” survey. There’s no confusing statistical analysis here, just straightforward graphs that give a sense of how students responded.
For people who did not take the survey, here’s a quick summary of what it was about:
There were two pages of questions, one page asking about how much segregation and integration each survey taker perceived there to be on campus, and another page asking about whether they would like to see more or less segregation on campus. The types of segregation/integration included in the survey were those based on gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation, international/non-international status, and religion. Each participant was asked to think about these bases of segregation/integration in the following four areas of campus life: housing, academics, extracurricular activities, and social life.
The results for gender and religion indicated that most students generally see the campus as integrated along those lines and that the majority of students see no need for change in those levels of segregation and integration. That’s why I’ll only include here the results for ethnic background, sexual orientation, and international/non-international status. There will be very little commentary accompanying these graphs, except to clarify certain things. What I’m really interested in is your reaction to these results and how they relate to your feelings about segregation and integration on campus more generally.
Each graph pair below shows perceived segregation/integration for ethnic background, sexual orientation, and international/non-international status, as well as what respondents indicated as ideal levels of segregation (i.e., more, less, or no change):
A few notes:
1) The total number of respondents who completed the survey was 160. My hope in putting this survey online and doing almost no outside advertising was to get a relatively representative sample of the larger undergraduate population. It is almost impossible to get a truly representative sample in any study, but I figure it’s important to highlight two possible sources of sampling bias. One possible source is the demographics of Wesleying’s readership (i.e., who had access to the survey) and another is self-selection of respondents (as with any online survey).
2) This survey had broad social categories that could be problematic for a few reasons. Many respondents indicated that they would have liked to have seen the categories broken into smaller ones. Some examples of how they would have liked the categories broken down are 1) male and female for sexual orientation and 2) different races/ethnicities for ethnic background. Some also mentioned “ablebodiedness”/”disabilities” as something to explore, which is also a really good suggestion.
3) Several respondents mentioned that they would have liked for socioeconomic status to be one of the factors looked at. Unfortunately, I can’t go back and include it, but I think that would be a great topic to discuss in the comments.
4) Many respondents indicated that they believed program housing to be a major contributor to segregation on campus. While I have never lived in a program house, it is my understanding that identity-based program housing can be an incredibly powerful form of social support for people who feel otherwise marginalized. In those instances, segregation would not be understood as “bad,” but as quite beneficial. However, I have no authority to speak about the experiences of program house residents. It would be great to actually hear from people who live or have lived in program housing.
Here are some things that came up in the open-ended portion of my survey that I think make great questions for discussion:
1) What do you think drives segregation?
2) Who self-segregates? Is it always minorities (racial/ethnic, religious, non-heterosexual, etc)?
3 Do you consider segregation a problem or something that needs to be reduced? Why or why not?
4) What role have you played in making our campus more or less segregated or integrated?