What Happens When Campus Activism Affects School Policies

A new study from the American Council on Education says that student-led protests are having an impact on college and university campuses across the country.

“Racial Climate on Campus: A Survey of College Presidents” anonymously surveyed 567 college and university presidents to uncover how they feel student activism is changing the way students and faculty alike address race-related issues.

[Related: How Many Protests Will It Take to Finally Diversify Our Campuses?]

The results show that students at nearly half (47%) of the four-year institutions surveyed have organized around racial diversity concerns. And 75% of the folks presiding over four-year programs say that campus events related to Black Lives Matter, immigration, and Islamophobia have increased the racial dialogue at their school. That number drops to 62% at two-year schools.

While one president reportedly wrote: “The national issues have manifested at my campus as a genuine focus on eliminating the disparity in student academic achievement by ethnicity and on being more proactive in diversifying the faculty,” the increase in conversation has only led to modest administrative action.

On four-year campuses, just 55% of presidents said that the racial climate has become more of a priority, and 1% said its importance has actually decreased. Just 44% of leaders on two-year college campuses feel that it is more important now than three years ago.

Other key points:

  • 86% of the presidents surveyed at four-year institutions say they have met with organizers more than once, with 11% having met with them one time and 3% never holding a meeting.
  • Across the board, public universities are much more likely to take action on racial justice issues than their private counterparts.
  • Presidents say that as a result of student activism, they are working on the following actions: implementing cultural competency training (19%), developing or revising curriculum (19%), increasing diversity (9%) and allocating resources for support services for students of color (8%).

Read more at Colorlines.