General Campus Climate from a Conservative Student Perspective

Student: Sarah Mattick
Mentor: Franchesca Nestor (OWU Department of Politics and Government)

Campus Climate Research studies how students and others in a college community feel about the climate of their institutions, especially how the climate facilitates learning, growth, and expression. Typically, this research has been applied to diversity concerns, especially in the decades after affirmative action became a common practice in higher education admissions. My research adds to this literature, because in the midst of creating a campus community and campus climate that is sensitive and in alliance with the needs of marginalized students, institutions will often find that a struggle occurs between the needs of marginalized students and the perceived neglect towards conservative students (or traditionally privileged students).

My study uses the lens of Campus Climate Research to explore the extent to which conservative or conservative-leaning students at Ohio Wesleyan feel that they can comfortably interact with other OWU community members. I utilized Campus Climate Research measures to conduct an anonymous survey that asked a series of questions about the students’ academic and social perceptions regarding fairness and equity. I found that while most students take courses that challenge their personal opinions, it is often the case that conservative students still do not feel comfortable speaking out in class or with their professors due to the negative responses of students and occasionally professors. However, this does not mean that faculty are failing at creating an optimum learning environment. It is often said that, compared to non-academic social interactions students experience, OWU professors are good at making sure that conversations stay civil. Not surprisingly, students are in disagreement over their perceptions on restricted freedom of speech — some believing that we are restricted and others believing that we are not. Conservative students also reported they felt that political views are being left out of discussions about open mindedness and acceptance.

More information about this project in Digital Commons @ OWU

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P 740-368-3075

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