Questions for Self Reflection: 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

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 Self Reflection

  • As we saw in the previous toolkit on Connectedness & Friendships, our social spheres strongly impact our experiences and perceptions of the world around us. Which social identity groups are well-represented among your social and professional circles? Which identity groups are underrepresented or absent, and how could you learn more about those experiences and perspectives?
  • Think of a time when your existing perceptions or assumptions about an individual or group were challenged. What happened? Did it shift your thinking? If so, how?
  • Think of a time when something YOU said or did disrupted another person’s assumptions or biases. What assumption were they making? How did you respond or react?
  • What does safety feel like to you? How do you know when you are feeling either safe or unsafe? Which people and environments provide a reliable sense of safety, and what about them evokes that feeling?

Questions for Group Reflection

In the previous toolkit focused on Connections and Friendships, a series of independent reflection questions invited individuals to consider the potential role of defensiveness and deflection in responding to campus climate data. In utilizing this engagement guide on Campus Climate, groups and teams are encouraged to continue this exploration by sharing the results of that reflection in dialogue with one another.

  • How do you recognize defensiveness in yourself and others when it occurs? What does deflection look and sound like to you?
  • 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? 
  • How can we, as team members, best support one another in this learning? How will we name and disrupt defensiveness when it threatens to derail or distract from our growth?