Undergraduates declare: 'I feel I belong at this campus'
By Mitchel Benson
UC Davis undergraduates responding to the 2012 UC Undergraduate Experience Survey gave their campus especially high ratings as friendly and caring.
The survey results, released this week, indicate UC Davis students are about on par with the highest-rated UC campuses in agreeing with the statements, “I feel I belong at this campus” and “Knowing what I know now, I would still enroll at this campus.”
And, when asked if they are valued as individuals and that their opinions are valued, UC Davis students answered affirmatively at higher rates than students at the lowest-rated campuses.
“We are fortunate that UC Davis students continue to acknowledge and recognize our continued commitment to their academic excellence and personal development,” said Adela de la Torre, interim vice chancellor of Students Affairs.
In an assessment of respect for racial-ethnic groups, UC Davis ratings have been generally increasing since 2006, and the 2012 ratings were the highest yet.
However, perceptions of respect for one’s own racial-ethnic groups were not uniform across specific races-ethnicities. African Americans, for example, were least likely to agree that they are respected at UC Davis, while white students were the most likely to feel respected. There were no statistically significant differences between the ratings of Native American, Hispanic and Asian students on campus.
De la Torre pointed to the new Student Community Center and its activities as an example of the university’s efforts to better integrate and support the campus's diverse student populations. “Thus, they feel respected and integrated, which impacts their perceptions of meaningful inclusion in campus life,” de la Torre said.
“However, we also recognize that we can do more, and we will do more so that all groups can feel fully engaged in all aspects of campus life.”
The biannual survey provides a comprehensive look at undergraduates’ perceptions across the UC system, focusing on students’ academic and civic engagement. The survey’s goal is to assess UC’s success in meeting student expectations regarding their undergraduate experience and to suggest areas for improvement.
The survey has been administered every two years since 2002, with the 2012 survey garnering a response rate of 36 percent (UC Davis students responded at a rate of 44.5 percent), or approximately 63,500 of today’s freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors.
The results indicate students continue to be highly satisfied with their UC education overall, with their ability to access the classes they need, and with the quality of courses and faculty instruction. Student participation in research, a key feature of learning at a research university, also has increased significantly in recent years. The survey also revealed students’ increasing concerns about finances and the value of a UC education for the price.
Systemwide, the survey found that the pattern of perceived respect by specific racial-ethnic groups at UC Davis is reflected across the UC system, with African American students feeling less respected than other groups and white students feeling more respected than other groups.
On this matter, UC Davis’ relative position compared with other UC campuses remained around the midpoint. And while the relative perception among African American and white students at UC Davis has not changed since the survey began, Asian and Hispanic undergraduates on campus last year expressed perceptions of respect for students of their race-ethnicity that exceeded those for all earlier survey years.
“The UCUES Survey has been a wonderful tool to help the campus administration understand our students’ perspectives and expectations on a number of important campus community issues,” said Rahim Reed, associate executive vice chancellor for Campus Community Relations. “The 2012 results will be augmented by the data we receive from the Campus Community Survey (conducted earlier this year), which will provide an even greater understanding of campus climate, and how our faculty, staff and students view their experiences teaching, learning and working on the UC Davis campus.”
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