Questions for Self Reflection: Connectedness and Friendships

A toolkit series to guide UMass community members in understanding, interpreting, reflecting on, and responding to findings of the 2021 Campus Climate Survey

What is your initial response to this information? Which emotions do you notice? (Note: you may find this Feelings Inventory list helpful!)

Members of marginalized or minoritized groups most directly impacted might feel…

  • Affirmed to see their experiences reflected
  • Frustrated that this experience is not already common knowledge
  • Cautious/skeptical about the potential for change
  • Vigilant to see how others will respond 

Those not directly impacted, but who strive towards allyship might feel…

  • Surprise or sadness to learn that things are “worse than you realized”
  • Increasingly committed to advocate for positive change and growth
  • A sense of urgency to act immediately and fix every problem

Those who have not yet had an opportunity (or obligation) to consider these topics might feel…

  • Disengaged -- ”what  does this have to do  with me anyway?”

  • Confused, impatient, or even irritated by others’ strong reactions

  • Embarrassed by a lack of knowledge or awareness

Remember that there is no right or wrong way to feel--all emotional responses are helpful information!

One common response to climate survey data is to question the validity of the survey tools or outcomes before (or even instead of) deeply considering the findings themselves – and what they may reveal about our communities and ourselves. If you have noticed this type of deflection or defensiveness in yourself or others…

  • How do you know? What does deflection look and sound like?
  • Where do you think this defensiveness comes from? How is it trying to help or protect?
  • What do you need in order to move through deflection and become available for reflection?

Questions for Group Reflection and Discussion

  • How do you personally define friendship? How can you tell the difference between an acquaintance and a friend? How do identity and experience influence your answer?
  • What factors influence who is in your “inner circle”? Friends and acquaintances can serve as both mirrors of our own experience, as well as windows into different identities and perspectives. Which kinds of connections do you prioritize and why? 
  • Have you ever been part of a friendship where each individual had a different perception of the importance or closeness of that connection? How did you navigate communication with that person?

Continued Opportunities for Learning & Engagement




Next Section: Important Ideas and Next Steps