City Commissions Diversity and Discrimination Survey

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discriminationOne of the issues that has plagued the city of Davis at times has been the perception of discrimination and the lack of tolerance for diversity.  Now the Davis Human Relations Commission is conducting a survey to determine the public’s perception on diversity and discrimination issues in Davis that it plans to use as they prepare a Diversity and Discrimination report over the next year.

According to a release sent out on October 23:

“The city of Davis Human Relations Commission is asking people who live, work or study in Davis to share thoughts on diversity and discrimination issues in Davis. The Commission has developed a brief survey with questions related to diversity and discrimination. The survey takes only a few moments to complete and is anonymous. The survey will close on November 30.”

The city’s website explains a bit more about the survey:

“The city of Davis Human Relations Commission works to promote cohesiveness and understanding among the members of the community by advising the City Council on the development of programs related to diversity and discrimination.

Over the years, the Commission has been responsible for many activities and efforts throughout the community to promote diversity and to address discrimination issues. This survey is one small part of those efforts. The information gathered from the survey, along with other information gathered by the Commission, will assist in the preparation of a report on diversity and discrimination in the Davis community. Hearing about your story and your experience helps the Commission to understand the issues, problems and solutions that exist in our community.”

I took the survey yesterday, one of the things I noted was that while I have not personally experienced discrimination, I know a number of people who have.  However, the survey does not take that factor into account and instead only asks for personal information and thus has no way of measuring the number or intensity of people I know who have experienced discrimination.

The Commission’s staff liaison, Kelly Stachowicz explained to me that the commission purposefully wanted to design the survey in this way, to hear directly from individuals about their own experiences.

As one of the more important issues facing a segment of the Davis population, I think it is extremely important that the commission have a very accurate view of discrimination in Davis and who does and who does not suffer from it.  I therefore encourage people to fill out the very brief survey and forward it to their friends.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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13 thoughts on “City Commissions Diversity and Discrimination Survey”

  1. Gunrock

    “One of the issues that has plagued the city of Davis at times has been the perception of discrimination and the lack of tolerance for diversity. “

    That is, without a doubt, one of the most false and misleading statements I have ever read in the Vanguard or about Davis…

    Now here is a litmus test:

    A. If you read the above and say “find me provable instances of actual discrimination and we should deal with it” you are are probably from Woodland.

    B. If you read my statement and say “well the fact that you don’t believe that there is rampant discrimination only proves that it exists” means that you are a genuine Davis resident!

  2. Rich Rifkin

    Your headline has a confusing punctuation error. It reads: [/i]”City Commissions Diversity and Discrimination Survey.”[/i]

    By leaving out the necessary apostrophe between the n and s in “Commission’s” you unintentionally are implying that a survey is being taken of multiple city commissions to see if the commissions are diverse or are engaged in discriminatory behavior.

    Feel free to correct your headline and remove this post.

  3. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”One of the issues that has plagued the city of Davis at times has been [u]the perception[/u] of discrimination and the lack of tolerance for diversity.”[/i]

    [b]That is, without a doubt, one of the most false and misleading statements I have ever read in the Vanguard or about Davis… [/b]

    By including the qualifier, the perception, as opposed to saying that in reality Davis has or had a problem with discrimination or “lack of tolerance for diversity” (whatever that is supposed to mean), you seem to be saying, David, that perception is not reality. If you didn’t think that, you would have started your story saying, “One of the issues that has plagued the city of Davis at times has been discrimination and the lack of tolerance for diversity.”

    That raises the question, why do you think those who have this perception which is not rooted in reality are so misguided?

  4. Gunrock

    Rich has nailed the issue dead-on. Davis is plagued by people who who can’t distinguish between reality and false perceptions. That is our real problem.

  5. Rich Rifkin

    To be clear, I don’t know that there is a “perception of discrimination and the lack of tolerance for diversity” [i]plaguing[/i] the City of Davis. That is (or was at one time) David’s belief.

    If David is right, then I wonder why he thinks there is a disconnect or even a distinction between perception and reality?

  6. Justin Kudo

    While I don’t necessarily agree with any of the sentiments which have been included in this post or its discussion, I wanted to thank the Vanguard for its promotion of the survey. We hope that it will be an invaluable tool in identifying any problems with discriminatory behaviors or social inequity that may exist within the current Davis community.

  7. David M. Greenwald

    Rich: Just wanted to clarify, my use of “perception” was intended to suggest that the impression is out in the community and that this survey will reveal to some extent whether that perception is correct. That was my intended use.

  8. Greg Kuperberg

    While well-intentioned, this survey is an exercise in shadow boxing.

    Just like all other kids in Davis, our kids have long been indoctrinated in tolerance by the school system. Our older one even went on the Museum of Tolerance field trip in 8th grade. I have explained to them that it is easy to preach tolerance and even to be tolerant if you’re naturally insulated from serious ethnic strife. Serious prejudice doesn’t spring out of kindergarten-style ignorance. It is inflamed by serious differences in political and social agendas. When everyone has roughly the same agenda, diversity and discrimination are either a tempest in a teacup or a calm in a teacup.

    The two largest ethnic groups in Davis, according to the Census, are whites and Asians. Both groups are generally affluent; both of them want basically the same things. The whites speak English, and the Asians generally also speak English. So from the beginning, there isn’t much of a problem to solve.

    It would be very different if Woodland and Davis were one city, because Woodland has a sizable blue-collar Hispanic population. Then there could be much more serious disagreements over language, education, crime, and neighborhood upkeep. Maybe Davis would handle these issues well — I personally have faith in Davis — but it wouldn’t be a trivial victory.

    For the most part, Davis is just lucky to be a university town with harmonious interests. Under any plausible city policies, not all that many blue-collar Hispanics could afford to live here. But it certainly sharpens the point that since Measure J, Davis has provided almost no new housing for them at all. No new apartments, no new trailer parks. DACHA is an expensive showcase, and lately also a fiasco.

    So again, we can fret over little diversity problems, or perceptions of diversity problems, or congratulate ourselves that they aren’t serious, while all of the real trouble is zoned away.

    (By the way, David, the comment box still erroneously tells me that I’m not logged after some early expiration. You might add an instruction to reload the page when this happens, if it’s not going to be fixed soon.)

  9. Rich Rifkin

    So what you are saying is that you have a perception that there is discrimination or intolerance and this survey will confirm or deny your perception? If so, I understand.

    However, what this survey will not do, as far as I can tell, is prove that Davis is plagued by discrimination and intolerance. It’s a survey about perception, not an assemblage of objective data about proven incidents where individuals experienced discrimination or intolerance.

    I should note that I think this sort of survey is worth taking. However, there is not an unlikely chance that those taking it will not be randomly selected. The bias of the takers will probably skew toward those for whom issues of discrimination or intolerance are primary concerns. And I would doubt that subset is more than 20 percent of our larger population.

  10. David M. Greenwald

    “So what you are saying is that you have a perception that there is discrimination or intolerance and this survey will confirm or deny your perception? If so, I understand.”

    Yes.

    I agree that it will not determine if Davis is actually plagued by discrimination. This gets back to a conversation I have with Chief Black periodically, if you have a perception of discrimination, even if that perception is wrong, you have a problem.

  11. Gunrock

    Yet another act in the Davis clown show. Complete waste of time and effort. Rich is correct that the survey will find whatever it seeks because of a silly process it will follow.

  12. Justin Kudo

    guest 12:25:
    City Commissions operate on a volunteer basis without a per diem, use little resources, and are allocated very little money (most of ours goes to holiday events such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day). The survey was offered as a easy way of checking for smoke in the air. Actually, it’s probably one of the simplest and least costly ways of asking the citizens of Davis for their input.

    Davis clearly has much less racial conflict than other towns due to various qualities of the town. However, that does not mean that incidents don’t happen, sometimes on smaller or larger scales. It’s important to identify where any existing or future problems may lie, so that they might be carefully acknowledged and addressed before incidents occur.

    It’s always a good idea to ask for input from the public. Communication is good, not a waste of time, and those of us involved are happy to make the effort.

  13. Frankly

    I think this survey is poorly designed, or else designed for a desired result.

    Question #1 is way too vague and broad to be useful.

    For question #2/3/4/5 (all connected) – “I have felt I was discriminated against in Davis within the past year based on my: (Check all that apply)” – I could check almost all of these answers… and I am only a middle class, Christian, white guy with a receding hairline and a bad knee.

    #6 is a good question: “Do you have concerns about diversity or discrimination issues beyond what was covered in this survey? To this I would answer: Yes, people that live in this town who see the world through racism-colored glasses because they haven’t figured out that real diversity is in a point of view and not a patch of skin.

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