AFA cadet survey draws measly response

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Most cadets who took the latest climate survey at the Air Force Academy report being satisfied with their experience at the school and feel safe, but the low number of participants raises questions about the survey's reliability.

Moreover, if you're willing to believe 15 percent of cadets who responded, they perceive a continuing problem with religious influence.

The climate survey covers topics such as religious influence, sexual harassment and favoritism toward athletes to give AFA officials a window into what issues they might tackle to improve the atmosphere at the academy.

Findings obtained by the Independent of the 2010 survey were based on a 40 percent return rate, compared to the newest survey return rate of only 15 percent.

Here's the academy's release:

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - The Air Force Manpower Agency
recently completed an Air Force Academy climate survey for all cadets and
permanent party at USAFA.
While participation numbers for this survey were lower than in years
past, Academy leadership will use the results with other surveys and
performance data to capture a realistic view of the Academy's climate.
The majority of those who took the survey were satisfied with their
experience at the Academy, felt socially accepted and felt physically safe
on USAFA grounds.
The survey also identified a perception that underage drinking is an
area of concern and that some cadets feel that intercollegiate athletes
received preferential treatment.
"We take these survey results seriously, and will use the data to
continually improve the Academy's living and working environment," said
Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould. "These are honest responses
from our folks telling us how they feel about where they work and live. We
will push these results to our commanders and supervisors to not only
highlight the positive results but work on those areas of concern from this
survey."

Because of the low response rate, it's probably risky to invest too much angst in some findings, but still one in seven cadets who responded said they had received unwanted attempts to convert them to a religion or denomination.

Here are some of the other results:

— Majority satisfied with experience at USAFA, although staff is less satisfied than cadets or faculty

— 53 percent of cadets believe preferential treatment is received based on intercollegiate status

— Over 50 percent of cadet respondents report perception that underage drinking, gender discrimination, and hazing occur at USAFA

— Majority feel socially accepted at USAFA

— Majority feel physically safe on USAFA grounds

— Majority disagree that various positions of authority are used to promote religious beliefs

— Majority agree they are able to practice tenets of their religious faith or belief system without negative consequence

— 14 percent of cadets received unwanted attempts to convert to a religion or denomination from cadets without authority over them.

For the entire survey results, which will be presented Friday to the academy's Board of Visitors, go here:
AFA_2011_climate_survey.pdf

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