Campus Cultural Climate Survey

April 16, 2021

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community:

I write today to provide an update on an initiative we launched in Spring 2020 to advance our commitment to an inclusive, equitable, and supportive environment for all students.

As we look back over this past year, there have been painful reminders of persistent racism and discrimination in our country. These past few weeks have been particularly challenging. We have just learned the horrific news that a 13-year-old Latino boy named Adam Toledo had been killed by a police officer in Chicago. Just days ago, with the murder trial in the killing of George Floyd nearing conclusion, a young Black man, Daunte Wright, was killed by a police officer, only 10 miles away from the trial courthouse. Today, we held a gathering to reflect on the experiences of our Asian American and Pacific Islander community, as we see increasing violence against the Asian community. Historical legacies of injustice, and their present-day manifestations, still undeniably shape our daily lives.

That our work takes place at such a challenging time in our country, when we are so often reminded of the harmful impacts of racism and discrimination, we know just how important it is that we live up to the values and expectations we have for our community.

Overview of the Campus Cultural Climate Survey

Fostering a culture of belonging is an ongoing imperative. In February 2020, after discussions with colleagues and students about how to foster greater inclusion on campus, we initiated a Campus Cultural Climate Survey for Georgetown undergraduate and graduate students. This process was led by our Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer, Rosemary Kilkenny (L’87), and our Campus Cultural Climate Survey Working Group, comprised of Main Campus, Medical Center, and Law Center colleagues.

Students had the opportunity to reflect on a range of issues related to their experience and perception of the culture at Georgetown—their sense of belonging; experiences involving bias, prejudice, and discrimination; campus accessibility; the classroom environment; and University resources and responsiveness. Our Office of Assessment and Decision Support (OADS), led by Drew Allen, Associate Vice President for Institutional Data Analytics, has analyzed the survey results and prepared both a key findings document and a full, detailed report on both the undergraduate and graduate surveys. I invite you to review these materials, along with a set of frequently asked questions, which are available on the Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Affirmative Action website.

Key Findings

In the survey, Black students and students of color reported significantly less positive experiences than their white counterparts—a finding that builds on the urgency of addressing racism in our community and establishing stronger anti-racist structures and practices.

For example, students were asked to describe the extent to which they feel part of the community at Georgetown. While seven out of ten undergraduates reported that they felt like they were part of the community at Georgetown, 76% of White undergraduates said this; 69% of international students; 68% of Asian students; 64% of multiracial students; 62% of Hispanic and Latinx students as compared with 43% of Black and African American students. Over half (57%) of graduate and professional students felt like they were part of the community in their graduate school, with 61% of White students; 60% of Hispanic and Latinx students; 59% of international students and 56% of Asian students compared with 38% of Black and African American students and 37% of multiracial students.

We also learned from the findings that many students feel there are people at Georgetown they can trust, and there is a sense that people at Georgetown support one another. We want to deepen and expand this sense of trust and community.

Building on our Work

There are many aspects of the survey findings that require our serious engagement. We must do more to ensure that all of our students feel a sense of belonging and inclusion within our community. I know that we have the capacity to respond to this challenge—to do the work required of us to uphold the values and the expectations we have of this community.

Important work has been done to develop resources in support of inclusive pedagogy and difficult discussions, and we also have new resources to support the mental health and well-being of our community, animated by our commitment to cura personalis—care for the whole person.

Since last summer, we have launched many new initiatives related to curriculum, pedagogy, and course design; new efforts have been created to support the recruitment of faculty from diverse backgrounds, mentorship, and fellowship opportunities for students; new orientation and co-curricular programs have been established focused on racial justice; and advising protocols and the bias system have been enhanced for better responsiveness.

Future Steps

Our Campus Cultural Climate Survey Working Group will continue its work with OADS, which will be conducting further analysis of the survey responses in specific areas, such as pedagogy and the classroom experience, in order to support our ongoing engagement with the results of the survey.

I will be working with Rosemary Kilkenny to consider steps we can take University-wide to strengthen our culture of belonging for students, faculty, and staff. Our three campuses are analyzing the findings related to their community and developing responses focused on improving the sense of belonging within their campus communities and will be following up to describe our future work.

Each generation takes on the responsibility of the work of building community—of ensuring that we uphold our values and our mission. All of us have a role to play in contributing to an inclusive culture, committed to racial and social justice. I wish to thank you for your engagement on this important issue, and I look forward to continuing our work together.


John J. DeGioia