A summary of the report is posted here. The link below and at the end of the page will download a .pdf version of the full report.
This report summarizes the responses from the all-staff survey collected between 8/14/20-8/20/20. The survey was distributed through email and through a daily message and commissioned along with a separate faculty survey to gauge campus opinion on reopening. The staff survey focused on demographics, support for reopening, and perception of personal safety on campus. The survey also included written responses for further explanation of these topics.
Sections I and II of this report present findings with regard to staff composition (Administrative/Support) and degree of contact required to perform job-related tasks (high contact, hybrid, low contact). Overall, our findings show that Support Staff make up the bulk of high contact staff, while Admin Staff identify as mostly low contact. Slightly more Support Staff responded to this survey than Admin Staff.
Sections III and IV of this report present findings of staff sentiment for personal safety and comfort with reopening. There is a strong correlation with staff answering “I feel safe” (options 1-4) and their support of the reopening plan. We also found that personal safety ranking responses had a slight bell shape between “1 – Very safe” and “7 – Not safe at all” (Admin mean = 3.7 and Support mean = 4.2). In general, we found that both Administrative and Support Staff support the reopening plan with greater than 60% of respondents supporting reopening fully or with some reservation or concerns. Interestingly, while Support Staff felt slightly less safe than Admin Staff returning to campus (to a statistically significant degree), there was no statistically significant relationship between type of job contact and sense of safety. However, one of the most common sentiments expressed in the written comments was feeling unsafe because of uncertainty around the virus and its effects on the campus and community. Additionally, there were approximately 21 respondents who did not want to be identified and, of those, 14 identified as feeling very unsafe on campus; we mention this because there are a large number of staff who did not participate in this survey and whose opinions are not reflected in this data. Since conducting this survey, we’ve heard that some staff did not participate because they feared being identified.
Section V attempts to capture a summary of the written sentiments of the survey respondents. We note here that the written responses create a complex picture of reopening Williams that is not easily captured in quantifiable ways. Some remark that they feel safe because they work alone in their own office while others write about difficult decisions to keep a job while having at-risk family members at home. While many staff on average feel safe returning to campus, one of the most pervasive themes in the written responses is an anxious uncertainty on how the risk and unknowns of this pandemic will impact us locally and nationally.
We identified three broad categories from the five written response questions. Those categories are degrees of trust in the Williams reopening plan, reservations in how those protocols will be followed and the subsequent impact on health and safety, and a broader category of concerns indirectly influenced by the virus, such as being at risk healthwise and concerns about childcare and job security.
We have included quotes representative of the overall tone expressed in each of the five response questions. For example, respondents who feel safe tend to write about working remotely or isolation and strong confidence in the reopening plan. Respondents who feel less safe tend to be more critical of the plan and less trusting of students to follow the protocols and disciplined appropriately if they do not. Interestingly, when asked about how reopening will impact your family the responses are quite consistent regardless of how staff identified themselves. When asked about concerns about having students on campus the concerns were quite uniform with worry. Many staff were concerned about the risks of having students back on campus, but also wrote about the risks of not opening, such as the economic impacts on the college, local businesses and harm to Williams’ reputation. There were no responses with imminent fears of job loss, but more long term worry about the future of the College and job security if the College cannot reopen.
There were many specific and insightful concerns such as disproportionate impacts on people of color, mental health considerations for staff and students. Our hope is this report serves as a springboard for continued discussion allowing for more nuanced staff perspectives to be heard and included.