Harvard Launches Pilot Pulse Survey


Harvard Launches Pilot Pulse Survey

The survey, in its first launch, has an impetus to gain an improved understanding of the climate of Harvard’s community



On the morning of Tuesday, March 5th, 2019, Harvard affiliates opened their university emails to discover an email sent from President Bacow, urging them to respond to the pilot Pulse survey. The motion of this survey was strongly recommended by the Presidential Task Force for Inclusion and Belonging of the previous year.

Within the various advertisements for the survey, there is a clear emphasis on its brevity. A placard advertising the survey, which can be found upon the tables within undergraduate dining halls, reads, “10 questions. 3 minutes. Your Voice.” Not only does the bolded type of the final words emphasize the survey’s aim at understanding inclusion, but the bolded numbers underscore the small amount of time demanded by the survey. In its bottommost corner there is a QR code linking to the survey, increasing the accessibility of the survey to students. The placard’s setting of the dining hall gains traction upon the possibility that students will take a moment to take the survey while they are already eating their meals.

As soon as undergraduates log into their Canvas accounts, upon their dashboard they will find a banner  about three times the size of a standard course widget. Embedded within the banner, which includes this same motto, is a link that directs students immediately to the survey.

Ultimately, the widespread and accessible nature of this survey, coupled with its brevity, caters toward the busy lifestyles of the Harvard community.

Survey participants are asked to answer questions on a scale from Strongly disagree to Strongly agree. The questions begin pertaining to themes of self and then transition into topics of interpersonal relationships, academic fulfillment, interactions within scholarly communities, and trust within the administration to handle issues such as harassment. The last question deviates in format; as an optional written response, it calls to its participants to outline one to two possible routes for concrete action the Harvard administration could take to improve inclusion. The diverse array of topics addressed within the questions points toward how Harvard may define inclusion, which is not limited to social interactions but also expands to evaluating academic curriculum, contrary to presumptions that a curriculum is static.

This is in line with this year’s rise in student advocacy for the development of an Ethnic Studies concentration within the curriculum of the College. Students, however, question the efficacy of the survey and its ability to drive true chance or thought. As Harvard Junior Awnit Singh Marta mentions, “I think that it’s a good step, but it’s way too late. This survey should have been launched closer to when the matter first began. Also, this survey is so general, it doesn’t seem to be specific to just this case. And I think there are many more issues on this campus that deserve a climate survey like this, such as divesting from prison investments.”

Marissa Garcia ‘21 (marissagarcia@college.harvard.edu) remains curious as to how the survey will translate its results into action within the community.