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Student Support and Resources to Improve the Campus Climate

Action Item (as stated with DEI strategic plan launch in 2016)

The university will use data-driven best practices to increase capacity and improve its overall effectiveness in providing resources for student support and educational programming to improve the campus climate. In addition, student communications will focus on raising awareness about—and increasing utilization of—related resources, organizations and channels for reporting campus climate concerns.

Progress update

 In Year Five, Student Life efforts to enhance campus climate were shaped by the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 and a heightened awareness of continued violence toward people of color, specifically police brutality targeting Black people. In preparation for a particularly challenging year, Student Life remained flexible in order to best direct resources for changing needs. We focused our campus climate efforts on 1) gathering information directly from students, 2) delivering support services and resources to meet their needs and 3) creating educational spaces that strengthen our individual and collective knowledge, awareness, skills and actions related to stewarding diverse, equitable and inclusive campus communities. 

Progress statement adding to intro/lead-in

Housed within the Dean of Students Office, the Campus Climate Support Team (CCST) serves as the mainstay of our collective campus climate efforts. From July 1, 2020 to May 27, 2021, CCST received 63 reports of campus climate concerns representing 48 unique concerns, assisted 53 students and responded to 13 non-affiliated reporters. Fourteen individuals were referred were referred to the Office for Institutional Equity or the Office of Student Conflict Resolution for additional follow-up.

In Year Five, Student Life prioritized its work with institutional partners in three key areas: (1) sharing information regarding student needs and experiences, (2) coordinating support resources and (3) identifying opportunities for structural change in operations, communications, programming and training. This was particularly important and impactful during the November 2020 presidential election, as students voiced concerns around their emotional and mental health, safety on campus and in the classroom and the state of our democracy. Leading up to the election, and in response to requests from the student-led Campus Climate Advisory Council, we focused on providing:

  • Sources for nonpartisan, trusted information 
  • Clear, coordinated communications 
  • Information that provided context for events in real time
  • Insights into potential policy impacts based on election outcome(s)
  • Space for discussing current events with professors and fellow students

Through close institutional partnerships and collective effort, Student Life launched weekly student emails highlighting election-related information, educational opportunities and support services. We also intensified programming to meet the anticipated needs of students leading up to, during and after the election. Emphasis was on training staff and faculty for engaging both inside and out of the classroom. Efforts included:

  • Coordination of dedicated services and programs in Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and other areas offering formal support. 
  • Enhanced campus climate support initiatives, including information for urgent situations, coordinated by the Dean of Students Office and the Office of Institutional Equity.
  • Virtual weekly peer-group sessions hosted by Wolverine Network Support, offering guidance on how to navigate issues around the debates and election.
  • In-person and virtual Community Connections programming for students before and after the election.
  • Workshops and related sessions focused on self-care, such as the Healing Justice Workshop: Self-care for Activists and Changemakers.
  • Resources equipping staff and faculty to support students through the election. 

Additionally, the College of Engineering’s COVID-19 Challenge surfaced a variety of student ideas to address food insecurity that the Maize & Blue Cupboard was able to initiate. These included a reservation system for shoppers, meal kits and cooking demos, a SNAP webinar, North Campus food distributions (which served 1,289 people) and collaboration with the student-run Food Recovery Network to glean 4,577 pounds of food from M Dining for redistribution to those in need.

Central to Student Life’s campus climate support work is our increased focus on educational programming to strengthen anti-racism education and intercultural learning. In Year Five, the peer-led MESA Anti-Racism and Coalition Building Teach-In program conducted 59 virtual teach-ins:  46 for undergraduates and 13 for graduate students, staff and faculty. The total number of participants was 1,370. 

Looking ahead, Student Life will continue to:

  • Enhance student access to and engagement with our divisional programs, resources and services.
  • Create environments where all students can feel valued and supported.
  • Advance students’ individual skills and organizational practices in support of creating diverse, equitable and inclusive environments.

Responsibility: Division of Student Life