LGBTQ grad students drop out of CU Boulder at twice rate of straight peers

Saturday, 21 October 2017, 06:19:41 AM. New data from a graduate student climate survey shows LGBTQ graduate students were twice as likely as straight students to withdraw from the University of Colorado

New data from a graduate student climate survey shows LGBTQ graduate students were twice as likely as straight students to withdraw from the University of Colorado without getting their degrees from the time the survey was conducted and March 2017.

CU Boulder’s Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance used enrollment data to track the progress of students who completed the survey in fall 2014 and found that there was no significant difference in retention between women and men, or across ethnicity groups.

More than 4,300 CU Boulder graduate students were invited to participate in the climate survey, and 37 percent took part. In January 2016, the campus released a summary of survey results that looked at harassment and student funding that some graduate students criticized as being inadequate.

Additional results were released a year later, but students were still searching for a report that differentiated responses of minority graduate students.

The grad student advocacy group Committee on Rights and Compensation took their concerns to the CU Board of Regents and Provost Russell Moore, and to graduate school Dean Ann Schmiesing when she began her tenure in 2016. The latest update providing this information was this week.

“It’s about time,” said Lisette Arellano, who graduated from CU in 2017 with a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology. During Arellano’s time at CU and in CRC, she advocated for the university to release more analysis from the 2014 survey detailing how underrepresented graduate students were faring.

Here are some of the new findings:

  • Higher proportions of graduate students who were women experienced sexism and hostility compared to men.
  • Of underrepresented minority group Ph.D. students surveyed, 29 percent experienced exclusion or marginalization from a lab or other work group because of their social identity.
  • Thirty-six percent of female Ph.D. students surveyed said CU was a comfortable and supportive place for underrepresented students compared to 51 percent of male Ph.D. students.
  • 71 percent of Ph.D. students surveyed and 72 percent of master’s students felt welcome at CU, while 81 percent of surveyed Ph.D. students and 77 percent of master’s students found their advisers took their comments seriously.

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