Rating Colleges and Universities on the Racial Climate on Campus

When students choose a college or university they often consult a wide variety of ratings to see where a particular school ranks academically, in athletic competition, or even as a party school. Now The Tolerance Foundation of New York is developing a rating system to help students assess the climate for race relations on campus.

The foundation recently released a pilot study which attempts to rate three campuses — Michigan State University, Columbia College, and the University of California at Berkeley — on racial diversity issues. More than 1,000 students were surveyed for the study. At Michigan State University, nearly two thirds of all students said they personally witnessed some type of bias or harassment on campus. At Berkeley, almost half the students had witnessed bias incidents, as did 43 percent of the students at Columbia.

At Michigan State, 43 percent of the students said that racial bias is routinely expressed “behind closed doors.” A third of the students at Berkeley and a quarter of the students at Columbia agreed. At Michigan State and Berkeley, more than half the students surveyed said that students tended to self-segregate by race. At Columbia 46 percent said there was a high degree of self-segregation by race.

The Tolerance Foundation hopes to compile similar ratings for a large number of colleges and universities in the future in order to give students an idea of the racial climate on campus.

The report, If I’d Only Known, can be downloaded by clicking here.