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A new report by NASPA, the professional organization for student affairs administrators, shows that students and senior university officials often have different opinions on how best to improve the racial climate on college campuses.

The report is based on an 18-month research project conducted between December 2021 and March 2022 in partnership with the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. It included focus groups with students, a survey of vice presidents of student affairs and senior diversity officers, and a survey of undergraduate students.

Both students and administrators agreed (at least to some extent) on what needs to happen on campuses to positively influence racial climate, including: maintaining racial/ethnic diversity at all levels of an institution, providing student engagement opportunities that are welcoming and accessible, establishing mechanisms for reporting bias incidents and holding individuals accountable for causing harm, and publicizing transparent measurements of progress made.

However, perspectives differed about how institutions should use their time and resources to achieve those goals. The report concludes that efforts to influence racial climate should be made with “buy-in and support” from both parties.

“We have known for decades that students and professionals thrive in college environments that welcome and affirm their identities, perspectives, and contributions,” Amelia Parnell, NASPA’s vice president for policy research and advocacy, said in a press release about the report. “Now is the most critical time to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and this report provides helpful context for us to do so.”