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Report 90-19: Toward an Understanding of Campus Climate: A Report to the Legislature in Response to Assembly Bill 4071 (Chapter 690, Statutes of 1988)

Published by The California Postsecondary Education Commission

June 1990

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A central question with respect to the achievement of California's educational equity goals is "Why do students of various racial-ethnic backgrounds and gender flow through the education system at rates and with levels of success that are consistently and predictably uneven?:" In an effort to address this query, this report examines the feasibility of developing an educational equity assessment system that would provide information on perceptions of the campus climate in California higher education. It defines campus climate as the formal and informal environment --both institutionally and community-based--in which individuals learn, work, and live in a postsecondary setting. Of particular concern to this report is the extent to which dissonant perceptions of the campus climate exist among groups of campus participants, particularly among groups whose members can be characterized by gender and racial-ethnic similarities.

Two confluent impetuses are responsible for the report: Assembly Bill 4071 (Vasconcellos, 1988) and the Commission's own interest in examining and improving the qualitative aspect of educational equity.

This is the first of at least two documents that the Commission expects to publish as a result of those influences. In it, the Commission examines the nature and effect of campus climate on students' perceptions, knowledge, skills, and competencies needed to succeed in and after college. The Commission anticipates publishing a second report, focusing on methods for designing and implementing an educational equity assessment system, in Spring 1991.

This report consists of five parts:

  • Part One discusses the impetuses for the study and describes its implementation.
  • Part Two describes the statewide context for studying campus climate.
  • Part Three outlines the methodology that the Commission used to collect information on campus climates from students, faculty, and staff at eight California colleges and universities.
  • Part Four presents summaries of the perceptions of students, faculty, and staff expressed during group discussions on these campuses.
  • And Part Five provides a set of conclusions based upon the study to date but defers recommendations on implementation to the second report from the study.
The quotations at the beginning and end of each section of the report illustrate the perceptions held by group participants of their campuses' climates.

The Commission adopted this report at its meeting on June 11, 1990, on the recommendation of its Policy Development Committee.

Related Topics: State and Federal Legislation

Further information may be obtained from the Commission's Research Staff
(916) 445-1000 or via e-mail at

A copy of any publication may be requested from the Commission's Publications Unit
(916) 445-1000 or via e-mail at

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