Campus Climate for Diversity: Current Realities and Suggestions for the Future
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The term "campus climate" is used quite often in higher education arenas. In general, campus climate consists of attitudes, perceptions, and feelings about an environment (Kuh, 1990). Peterson and Spencer (1990) explained how climate is a complicated and "pervasive" organizational phenomenon rooted in "current patterns and beliefs and behaviors" of community members (p.8). Climate measures can be valuable tools for understanding present campus realities and for comparing the beliefs and behaviors of campus constituents over time. Indeed, multi-institutional climate studies and university-specific climate assessments have helped faculty and administrators understand how the same socio-spatial space (i.e., campus) can engender radically diverse perceptions and behaviors from campus constituents. In this article, I provide a brief overview of contemporary campus climate literature, which largely emphasizes the climate experiences of students from minoritized social identity groups (e.g., students of color, women, LGBT students). While these studies have been invaluable to the scholarly literature and climate improvement initiatives, I suggest four ways that future studies and assessments can be expanded to accurately document the complicated climate realities of diverse faculty, staff, and students. Armed with such data, campuses can develop more inclusive programs, policies, services, and curriculum.