Over the past few years, the headlines that reveal how colleges and universities have responded to instances of sexual violence have left us with one inevitable conclusion: there is more work to be done. The stories of institutional oversight are painful for student affairs professionals because these missteps fail to reflect the profession’s deep commitment to supporting students’ social and emotional wellbeing.
NASPA is proud to represent members of a profession that is mobilizing to critically examine and improve how our institutions prevent and respond to sexual violence. Culture of Respect, a NASPA initiative, recently published the 2nd Edition of the CORE Evaluation, a rigorous self-assessment survey that provides a platform for campuses to ask tough questions about how they are addressing violence. Tackling these questions with key stakeholders can spark a much-needed discussion and identify strengths and gaps in your institution's approach to sexual assault violence prevention and response.
Below are six questions, taken from the CORE Evaluation, that can help your campus think beyond federal compliance and focus on an effective strategy for mobilizing available resources and stakeholders. This list includes one question from each of the CORE Blueprint’s six pillars: survivor support, clear policies, multitiered education, public disclosure, schoolwide mobilization, and ongoing self-assessment. This framework will help ensure that you and your colleagues are using a wide lens to analyze how policies and programs impact campus climate.
To what extent are your procedures for submitting a report of sexual misconduct easy-to-follow? We know that over the past few years colleges have worked hard to create multiple avenues for students to report incidents of violence. But for these policies to be effective, administrators need to make sure students can easily understand them. This can be accomplished by inviting students to give input into key policy decisions, and responding meaningfully to their concerns.
Does your institution's student misconduct policy use gender-inclusive language? We know that sexual violence affects all of us. Allowing gender-based myths and stereotypes to seep into our institutional policies could discredit efforts to embrace and support all survivors. Culture of Respect recommends that institutions look carefully at their policies and communication tools, and confirm that all language about survivors and perpetrators is gender neutral.
To what extent does your institution's prevention programming embrace intersectionality? Most campuses know what it takes for their prevention programs to meet compliance standards, but for programs to be truly effective, they must address the lived experience of students. That means programs should speak about systems of oppression that our students struggle with and are passionate about dismantling, such as sexism, racism, transphobia, xenophobia, homophobia, and ableism. To do this, your institution may need to stray from off-the-shelf programs and write a curriculum that speaks to your students’ unique needs.
How does your institution communicate with students’ families about sexual violence policies, events, and prevention efforts? Research evidence has rarely been so clear: when it comes to the sexual health of young adults, family matters. Yet, few campuses take advantage of the opportunity to engage with students’ families. Work with stakeholders from across your institution to think about the best way to keep students’ families engaged in the important work your campus is doing.
How are student activists and educators compensated for their contributions to improving campus culture? Student activists have gone to extraordinary lengths to bring this critical issue to the forefront. Institutions of higher education can honor and support students’ contributions by compensating them for their work. Are peer educators paid or offered academic credit for conducting seuxal violence prevention programs? Are students offered academic credit or another form of compensation or recognition for their time spent serving on a Title IX taskforce? These tactics can promote continued student involvement and also encourage students to embrace this work as part of their professional training.
When was the last time your institution conducted interviews with survivors of sexual violence to assess services provided on campus? For some institutions, the answer to this question is never. Campus climate surveys are a standard method for hearing from student survivors, but they do not always tell the whole story. Interviewing students in a trauma-informed manner, either as part of a program evaluation effort or a research project run by faculty, can present an opportunity to see what is and is not working in terms of survivor support services and misconduct proceedings.
No matter where your institution is in its efforts to address campus sexual violence, asking these questions can help you and your colleagues celebrate what has been accomplished and strategize what needs to be done next. To access the entire 135-question survey, download the CORE Evaluation for free from the Culture of Respect website. You can also consult the CORE Blueprint, the companion tool to the CORE Evaluation, for guidance and recommendations on how to work on your campus to create a Culture of Respect.