I took a survey the other day for a national study that Marquette is participating in that focuses on student experiences in college with an emphasis on leadership.
First, the good. I really liked that for any questions that asked about gender, like one that asked “what gender was your most significant mentor at college,” transgender was an option. I think that showed some real inclusivity and I was surprised to see that option as one of the choices. So good on you, Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership.
On the flipside, some questions really bugged me. Like this one: the question used a likert scale that ranged from something like “describes me very well” to “does not describe me at all” and stated “I am a cooperative participant in the activities of my racial group.” What does that even mean!? Ugh.
And then there was the question, “How frequently do you interact with student leaders from diverse backgrounds?” I think this is just me being picky, but the term “diverse” is overused like whoa and it has come to mean “other” and in this case, it’s “other” than the white, anglo, heterosexual, usually male, mainstream. Therefore, through our repetition of understanding the term “diverse” or “diversity” as such, we’re merely reinforcing these ideas of heterosexualwhiteuppermiddleclassmale as the normative feature in society. I think the question could be improved if “than yourself” was added on to the end of the question. That way, “diverse” wouldn’t act as a stand in for meaning “everything outside of the aforementioned norm”, but rather, it would stand more comprehensively and deal with people’s interactions with members from various backgrounds they are not as familiar with.