The fountain at the center of ECU's main campus, in front of the Whichard building.

Officials at East Carolina University have commented on the University of North Carolina (UNC) System Racial Equity Task Force online survey which allowed the UNC System community to share input and changes it may bring to the ECU community.

The online survey, launched on Sept. 15 and closed on Sept. 30, is part of an effort to gain better understanding of race and equity across the UNC System, according to the UNC System website.

“The survey is a baseline for gaining a better understanding of race and equity and is a part of a larger engagement strategy that includes a series of virtual listening sessions scheduled in October,” the website said.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Virginia Hardy said the online survey is one of the task force’s first steps to gather information that can be used in the near future.

Hardy said there are several things ECU does related to faculty and staff initiatives from the Office of Equity and Diversity and the Office of Faculty Excellence. She said these initiatives focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.

“One of the things that came from one of our earlier Cupola Conversations this summer was around how do, how can you have these kinds of conversations in the classroom, how can you integrate it into what’s happening,” Hardy said.

There is a climate survey that is conducted every few years, according to Hardy. She said these surveys include questions that center around diversity and inclusion and the results help guide additional conversations.

Hardy said she believes the UNC System Racial Equity Task Force’s online survey will highlight beneficial initiatives and efforts across campuses as well as gaps and concerns in areas that may be unknown.

“Like with any survey, you can expect to see the positives and then you can expect to see the areas of growth and so that’s what I would hope from this,” Hardy said.

This survey may show some themes and patterns that will spark communication and conversation, according to Hardy. She said if there is something that highlights needed action, there will be a plan put in place to address it accordingly.

Hardy said if something is highlighted that might require financial resources, the university will look at it and use it in conjunction with the aforementioned climate survey’s information and data to create a plan of action.

“All of this is a journey and it’s a constant fluid type of conversation and actions,” Hardy said. “We’re all learning along the way.”

Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson said it is important to know how people feel about the institution in terms of its hospitality, inclusivity and fairness. He said he hopes to see institutional level data from this online survey.

If the results show areas that need strength, Mitchelson said ECU will design additional programs that may be needed. He said he is unaware of when the results will be released.

“I would expect that we would design programming, sort of in line with what the findings would show,” Mitchelson said. “I think we’re increasingly sensitive to making sure that we do respond to these kinds of survey findings.”

Mitchelson said the university worries about representation of underrepresented groups among students and faculty on campus. He said there is already new programming in discussion to express specific ideas for certain areas.

Some curriculum has changed to incorporate knowledge of diversity and inclusion, according to Mitchelson. He said a diversity and inclusion aspect has been added into Health 1000 under the general topic of public health.

Mitchelson said there is the University Council that consists of university leaders, faculty and staff senate officers and Student Government Association leaders and the council meets once a month.

“Right now, our focus is on really racial justice, right,” Mitchelson said. “So this month, we’ll be looking at, we’ll take a deep dive on our diversity numbers.”

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