UCC Mainstream Online

Umpqua Unites examines inequalities

Dennis Wahlman / Mainstream
Surveys done by the Umpqua Unites initiative show UCC females feel less respected than males.

Preliminary results from Umpqua Unites’ “Got Respect” surveys on campus discrimination are out. Umpqua Unites is a campus initiative with six focus groups advocating for diversity, equality and inclusion with the guiding principle to lead by example.

Over 150 students were questioned about discrimination. The results of that data showed the following information:
• 46% of these female students think they are not taken seriously compared to 19% male. 
• 26% of these female students think gender determines how they are treated compared to 14% male.
• 24% of female students fear some areas of the campus compared to 0% male. 
• 14% of female students feel unsafe compared to 0% male.           
• 23% of these female students reported feeling uncomfortable on campus compared to 7% of males. 

Umpqua Unites’ initiative started in the summer of 2014 after some students complained regarding campus treatment and feeling blocked.  A collective awareness group started to talk about the students’ observations and to collect hard data. They then created a task force of teachers and staff who created the “Umpqua Unites” program.

Umpqua Unites is compiled up of two sections: the Got Respect initiative and the Take a Stand action teams.

Umpqua Unites volunteers have engaged in focus group training and research on poverty, ability, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity and age discrimination.

Their goals are to facilitate creation of an office of equity and inclusion and to provide discrimination training.  

“We hope to achieve increasing cultural competency in students and staff to increase student retention and success. This important collaboration of work will lend everybody a voice,” said Caroline Hopkins, director of TOP/TRIO, and one of the U.U. committee members.

Paula Usrey, associate professor of speech and communications, hopes that events or initiatives that come about will help bring awareness and commitment to create a more respectable environment on campus.

Susan Rochester, another U.U. team member, has created a blog at umpquaunites.org. “This is a place where we (Umpqua Unites) will post articles, have discussions, recommend readings, and try to create a community conversation about issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion,” Rochester explains.

The blog will provide confidentiality. “We hope the campus community will contact us via the blog to ask questions, suggest topics and participate in the discussions. Everything will be moderated, so potential commenters can be assured that any identifying information will be stripped away so posts will be anonymous—unless they choose to have their names attached, of course,” Rochester said.

Rochester also noted the challenges that Umpqua Unites faces. “We live in a great place, and UCC is an amazing school. However, this is a difficult place to be a woman (especially if a feminist), a person of color, LGBTQQ, ethnically/racially diverse and differently abled. As a rural, agriculturally based economy, we also face issues of poverty. All of these can be a tremendous weight to carry when trying to navigate college studies,” Rochester said, also noting that the campus must realize that some students feel marginalized.