COC employee climate survey results to be released 

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After spending more than an hour at last week’s Santa Clarita Community College District board of trustees meeting on the subject, College of the Canyons officials entered into an understanding with a consulting group to release all of the comments submitted by employees in a campus climate survey. 

Representatives from the teachers’ union, classified employees’ union, Academic Senate and Classified Senate, as well as the five trustees and Chancellor Dianne Van Hook, were all concerned about the full results of the survey not being shared as previously agreed.  

The RP Group, the consulting firm tasked with collecting the survey submissions, had told attendees at last week’s steering committee meeting that it would not be doing so once the results are ready to be shared later this month. 

The news that the comments would not be released publicly came from Darla Cooper, executive director of The RP Group. 

The steering committee was created a few months ago to help develop the survey to give college officials a better idea of how COC can be improved, according to Eric Harnish, spokesman for the college. All employees were encouraged to submit responses, he added. 

Michael Monsour, president of the Classified Senate, said that the survey is “undeniably and inescapably the topic of the moment.” Describing himself as someone who normally is cheery and tells bad jokes, he said he was setting that aside to relay some of the concerns that classified employees wanted to ensure were heard regarding the survey. 

“This decision, as articulated by Miss Cooper, was not previously agreed upon by the steering committee, and it came with an unexpected assertion that sharing these comments would breach the anonymity promised in the survey instructions,” Monsour said. “She argued that The RP Group was entrusted with managing these comments confidentially, suggesting that this data should remain solely within their purview that they would attempt to summarize and capture the essence of these comments for reporting purposes.” 

Monsour read comments from nine officers of the Classified Senate. One of those comments expressed concern over the point of the survey being anonymous if the results wouldn’t even be shared with the people who have the power to make change, while another put the onus on the board to demand the results be made available. 

Trustee Joan MacGregor attended the steering committee meeting and agreed with Monsour, saying, “I’m as disappointed as you are” with how the process has played out. 

“I did speak up at the meeting and express my disappointment in that, and that’s exactly what I had hoped to get back, was direct, accurate, honest and truthful comments from our employees,” MacGregor said. “And that’s the only way that this board can make changes, I think, and have an action for the future as to what needs to be done.” 

The survey was conducted over the course of two weeks earlier this year, according to Harnish. The RP Group encouraged all employees to complete it, as did the college, which provided computers for employees to complete the survey during work hours, if needed. 

The results of the survey were meant to be anonymous, a point that trustee Jerry Danielson hit on in requesting that the comments be shared in full. 

“People wouldn’t write comments if they didn’t want us to read them,” Danielson said. 

Van Hook likened the survey to the ones that students submit responses to after each semester for each of their professors, saying the professors get those responses anonymously and therefore this survey should also be able to be like that. 

She added that, with a number of open-ended questions presented in the survey, it would behoove the college to be able to read the responses to get an accurate report on how employees feel about COC. 

“We can’t continue to make progress on accreditation standards and on your improvement unless we have information,” Van Hook said. 

Trustees and Van Hook also made a point to criticize the usage of demographic questions, which they said could be removed if anyone was afraid of those being identifiers, but also that they were not the point of the survey and should not be a reason for the results not to be shared. 

Board President Edel Alonso was told by RP Group staff when sampling the survey that the demographics questions were necessary to help the college with its plans for diversity, equity and inclusion as well as equal employment opportunity. 

Alonso invited every employee to submit their responses directly to her, though that, it appears, will no longer be necessary. 

The results of the survey, including all written comments, are set to be released publicly prior to the end of the semester, according to Harnish. 

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