Title IX efforts taking place nationally include the issue of conducting a survey on college campuses to learn more about their own climate regarding sexual assault. At the national NASPA meeting in March 2015, the Public Policy division sponsored a session about campus climate surveys to a packed house.
In June 2015 another national survey from the Kaiser Foundation and the Washington Post was released, reiterating the finding that about 1 in 5 college students experiences sexual assault. Dateline ran an episode in June 2015 which focused on campus sexual assault issues and included NASPA President Kevin Kruger and subject matter expert Nancy Chi Cantalupo. The drumbeat of this issue is continuing and is getting louder.
Currently, college campuses are being encouraged to conduct these surveys, and there is proposed federal legislation which might make it required. The frequency of the surveys, should you survey the population of campus or a sample, and other details have not been mandatory at this time, but should be considered when you are implementing one on your own campus.
There are many instruments available, many of which are modeled after the example on the Not Alone website. Many institutions have developed their own excellent versions (such as University of Nevada-Reno, MIT, and the University of New Hampshire), but there are a few which several institutions are using. Examples include:
From a public policy view, thinking about what you want to actually find out from the surveys will help you determine which route to take. Like all good assessment planning, you should begin with the end in mind. What will you do with the information? Are you looking to find out how frequent incidents might be? How safe your campus is perceived to be? Which campus resources are students aware of? Who will you share the data with? What information do you think will help you make improvements to the campus climate? Do you think the information will change annually, meaning it would be important for an annual survey? Some good food for thought is from Prevention Innovations about communicating and using survey results.
This issue is quite more complex than a simple blog post can do justice, but if you haven’t gotten started on figuring out what your institution is going to do, now is a good time.