Campus Climate Survey Engagement Guide: Perceptions of Climate

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

Now that we’ve explored feelings of belonging and the connections and friendships in which we engage, this next Climate Survey Report reflects on our lived experiences at UMass – how we perceive the general campus climate, the racial climate, and the campus commitment to inclusion. Our perceptions about the campus arise from our lived experience within its systems, policies, and procedures and those lived experiences differ by our roles on campus as well as our identities.

How do we understand the meaning and implications of the perspectives shared through the Climate Survey data when viewed through a lens of equity and inclusion? From this equity lens, we might interrogate how our systems, policies, and procedures influence the experiences of people in their differing roles and their multiple identities at the wider, ‘global’ campus level. By contrast, do we have different experiences in our many ‘local’ climates? Do we experience the climate of our department, office, dorm or apartment differently than the climate of the campus as a whole? Consider the idea of “microclimates”--an oasis in a desert, the cool river air on a hot day, or a steamy sidewalk in a corner of the city. An individual experience of “climate” can often differ depending upon the level we are considering and the unique systems, policies and procedures which shape it.

As you use this toolkit, take time to think about both global AND local perceptions of campus climate, and notice the unique insights and understandings available at each level of lived experience.

- Barb Chalfonte, Associate Provost of Analytics & Assessment

Survey Questions

  • Thinking about your own experiences and interactions, please rate the campus overall on each scale below:
    • Unwelcoming ← →  Welcoming 
    • Hostile ← → Friendly
    • Unsafe ← → Safe
    • Not Collaborative ← → Collaborative
    • Disrespectful ← → Respectful
    • Not Inclusive ← → Inclusive
    • Intolerant ← → Tolerant
    • Not Diverse ← → Diverse
    • Unsupportive ← → Supportive
    • Weak sense of community ← → Strong sense of community
  • How likely are you to recommend UMass Amherst to others? (Very Likely, Somewhat Likely, Somewhat Unlikely, Very Unlikely)
  • How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the racial climate at UMass Amherst?
  • How committed or uncommitted to inclusion is UMass Amherst as an institution?

Key Findings


  • For both undergraduate and graduate students, the overall mean on the campus climate measure is 3.7. Groups whose ratings fall below this mean include Black, Multiracial, LGB, transgender and nonbinary students, as well as students with a mental health disability. Conversely, groups whose ratings exceed the mean include International and heterosexual students, as well as cisgender men.
  • Satisfaction with overall campus climate is highest among International and Asian students, while only 26% of Black and 25% of Multiracial graduate students reported being Very Satisfied or Somewhat Satisfied with the campus racial climate. 
  • Non-binary students and students with a mental health disability were more likely to perceive the University as uncommitted to inclusion than their cisgender and non-disabled counterparts.
  • When it comes to perceptions of safety, cisgender, heterosexual, male students are notable statistical outliers. This demographic was 22% more likely to rate safety at a 4 or 5 than the UMass mean of 61%. By comparison, students who identify as Black, LGBTQ+, or multiply-disabled were 13 - 25% less likely to report a strong sense of safety than the UMass mean.

Staff and Faculty:

  • The overall mean on the campus climate measure was similar for both staff (3.5) and faculty (3.6). Groups with a higher perception of campus climate include Asian staff, staff in managerial roles, and male faculty members.
  • Similar to the data from student demographics, staff and faculty groups whose ratings fell below the mean include Black and Latinx staff, as well as disabled faculty and staff, who were 15 - 18% more likely to perceive the institution as uncommitted to inclusion than their non-disabled peers.
  • Among both staff and faculty, Asian employees were most likely to indicate satisfaction with the campus racial climate, whereas Black, Latinx, and Multiracial employees were least likely to indicate satisfaction.