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The 7 Steps to Conducting a Successful Campus Climate Survey

Conducting campus climate survey If your educational institution has decided to conduct a campus climate survey, you may be struggling with where to begin. You are not alone; designing a successful campus climate survey is a complex task, one that requires thorough planning, collaboration and hard work by everyone involved to yield useful information.

The United States government has issued a guide to help colleges in their efforts to reduce sexual assault on their campuses. This guide goes in depth on creating campus climate surveys. It is full of valuable information and deserves a thorough reading. However, for those looking for a quick overview, here are 7 basic steps to creating a campus climate survey to get you moving in the right direction.

Step 1 - Set Goals and Milestones

Sit down and discuss with your administrators, deans, Title IX coordinators to understand what kind of information you are wanting to gain from conducting a campus climate survey. Creating goals and requirements for the final survey will become your guideline for developing the survey.  It is also very important to set a deadline for major milestones, which include:

  1. Survey design
  2. IRB approval
  3. Finalizing technology/administration and analytical setup
  4. Administering the survey
  5. Conducting analysis
  6. Publishing results
  7. Determining action items, priorities, budget, roles/responsibilities for upcoming year

Step 2 - Engage with IRB

The order of this step may change depending on your educational institution’s approval process.  Most colleges/universities will have a formal Institutional Review Board (IRB) process to make sure the survey follows the IRB guidelines.  This may require proposing the project before any work is done.  Other IRB or campus review boards will only need to approve the final survey draft before it is sent out for responses. Check with your university’s or college’s human subject research guidelines before administering surveys.

Step 3 - Assemble a Team

After you have reached a consensus on the goal of your campus climate survey and know how you will engage with the IRB, it is time to assign roles and responsibilities of survey creation, review and distribution.  You will most likely need a multi-disciplinary team to help you. Preferably, you will have representation and cooperation from the following participants:

  • Research faculty (social science research)
  • Academics
  • Administration
  • Student representatives
  • Grad research assistants
  • Title IX administrators and coordinators
  • Counseling services employees

If you are reading this blog post, it is most likely that you will be the main coordinator who will come up with initial list of survey questions and setting review meetings and deadlines to keep the project progressing

Step 4 - Create and review survey

With your team assembled, many workshops and planning sessions will be needed to complete the survey creation process. These workshops will be essential to ironing out what questions are needed to obtain the information you are looking for. During these meetings, it is very important to take notes, particularly on the rationale for each question that is included. These notes will prove a valuable resource, especially when you run the survey again.

When the survey starts to come together, it is wise to test your campus climate survey with a focus group. These participants will be able to give you feedback, making you aware of things you need to change, questions you need to clarify, etc.

Finally, always review your final survey before it is sent out to your respondents. Some things to check for other than grammar and spelling are length, biased/leading questions and statements, confusing or misleading questions, etc.

Step 5 - Administer the Campus Climate survey

When your campus climate survey is completed and ready to be distributed, make sure to do it in a way that protects your respondent’s anonymity. There are a number of ways to distribute surveys, with the most popular being internet-based distribution. By using online survey programs such as Qualtrics or Survey Monkey, you have control over when the surveys open and close. They also offer tools to analyze the data when it comes in.

Make sure to distribute your survey to as many people as possible to ensure you are getting a good number of responses. Too few responses can lead to results that are not statistically sound.

Step 6 - Remind your respondents to take the survey

To increase your respondent numbers, make sure to periodically remind people to take the survey. Do not overburden them with reminders, however, or this could lead to people becoming irritated and less likely to respond.

Another way to gain more respondents is to incentivize the survey. This could be accomplished by offering a tangible reward, either to all respondents or to one or a few lucky respondents. Not all colleges and institutions offer incentives for their survey, so be sure to discuss incentives and budgets that comply with your institution’s values and budget.

Step 7 - Start analyzing the Campus Climate Survey data & results

After the survey response collecting time period has passed, or you have reached your sampling goal, close the survey. You may now start analyzing the results!

Many survey programs will allow you to analyze your results with their tools, but most will not be able to analyze open-ended questions. Make sure to analyze these answers carefully, as they often provide unique and interesting insights that can not be collected through traditional multiple choice questions.  You may need a grad assistant to "code" the responses so they can be analyzed as quantitative items

Publish your findings!

Those are the 7 basic steps to creating a successful campus climate survey! While these steps have been stripped down to their most basic forms, there is still a lot of complexity behind them. Remember, this guide is not a substitute for reading the full guide issued by the government, but a supplement and a springboard. Use these basic steps to start your planning, and refer to the full guide for more detailed instruction.


Campus SaVE Act - responsibility and the consequences...


Now that the Campus SaVE Act is being implemented in college and university campuses across the country, the work is well under way in educating the student population about the issue of on-campus violence and bystander intervention. At this point, it should no longer be a subject for people to talk about in dark corners or behind closed doors in dorm rooms across the nation. Still, it is not a topic that many will feel comfortable discussing openly so it’s important for universities to find ways to motivate and encourage those who must take part in these courses to actually want to be an active participant. There are several ways that they can accomplish this. What about colleges and campus that have not yet implemented the Campus SaVE act or do not have a plan in place?

While there are consequences for failure to meet the requirements set out in the new law, the most effective approach for success will to encourage participants to want to take an active role in the Campus SaVe Act program. This will require each campus to seriously consider the answer to several important questions before they can proceed in finalizing their new program of education in this regard.

What are the Consequences for Students and Employees Who do Not Take the Required Courses?

Getting campus administration to become more proactive in dealing with the Campus SaVE Act requirements is no easy task. Not only will they have to allocate funds for this training program but they will have to incorporate this new perspective on this old activity in order to change the thinking of many on this very sensitive subject. The consequences for the institution’s that do not comply is clear; any institution found to be in violation of the ACT may have penalties imposed that could be as high as $35,000 per violation in addition to the limitation or even suspension of eligibility of receiving federal aid if necessary. Considering the fact that most institutions would not be able to keep their doors open makes this a cause for serious concern.

Consequences for the Students / employees?

However, for the student the situation is not as clear. Each institution will be required to implement their own level of consequences for students who fail to comply with the new law. Title IX coordinators in each school are considering their options to motivate staff, faculty, and students to want to comply with this new law. For some, they consider making it a requirement for graduation but that route raises additional concerns. The student may opt to wait until the end of their educational career to take the required courses and in effect, defeating its purpose.

Other campuses are considering making it a requirement for registration. Students who do not wish to take the courses will not be permitted to enroll in the classes they need in order to complete their education. It is clear, that while the law has found a favorable following in many cases, there are several issues that still need to be addressed in this regard.

How will a college or university be judged on its efforts to implement this new law?

There is also the issue of how to determine the success of any educational institution that is expected to meet these new requirements. Administrators at every institution will have to define and find a way to measure their success in terms of compliance. Should this be determined by the percentage of students that have completed the course or should it be set by some other parameter? Since the penalties for non-compliance can ultimately be damaging to the educational institution, it is in the institution’s best interest to find out exactly how their rate of success will be measured within the guidelines of this new Campus SaVE Act.

Without a doubt, the idea of making our educational institutions across the nation safer is an important goal that everyone should be concerned with. However, the new law still leaves behind numerous questions that must be answered or at the very least clarified in order for any of them to see any type of measurable success in implementation.

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image courtesy: johnloo@flickr

Not My Athletic Teams! Six Rape Myths and Reality

Athletes tend to have higher acceptance of rape-supportive statements vs. control group. This summary looks at key findings from research paper "Understanding Community-Specific Rape Myths : Exploring Student Athlete Culture" by Sarah McMahon

Violence Against Women – Review of Effective Training Programs


Every year millions of women and young girls from around the globe are forced to live every day under the ever-present threat of violence. Statistics show that one out of every three women will have to at some point in their lives cope with either some sort of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. The impact of these assaults, not only affect the women victims but all of society as a whole. In an effort to reduce the level of abuse that these women have to deal with educational programs have been implemented to refocus society’s pattern of thinking so that women can be viewed as a more valuable asset. There are many different topics that can be covered in these programs. Here are several online training programs that have proven effective in helping communities to reach their goals.

The Online Training Institute

The Online Training Institute program provides CEUs for professionals who are responsible for investigating sexual assault cases. The program focuses on keeping them abreast of the latest developments in regards to sexual assault. They apply extra emphasis on how to handle cases involving adult and adolescent victims who know their attackers. It addresses the unique issues such as community attitudes and biases that often interfere with the investigation process and how to overcome them. Courses offered in this program include “What Does Sexual Assault Really Look Like?”, “Preliminary Investigation: Guidelines for First Responders”, and “Effective Victim Advocacy in the Criminal Justice System: A Training Course for Victim Advocates.”

Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs

The WCSAP sponsors several online courses that cover a variety of topics that address the issues of violence against women. They offer several recorded webinars and online training courses that talk the student through a variety of issues dealing with violence against women and how victims, advocates, and others involved should deal with them. They keep everyone concerned up to date on the latest topics that deal with sexual assault as well as provide direct links to other National Resources that deal with such topics as “Understanding Sexual Violence”, “Working With Survivors”, Preventing Sexual Violence”, and “Addressing Public Policy.”

The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women online training has virtually everything anyone might need to know about violence against women. They cover topics on domestic violence, sexual violence, transitional housing, survivors of domestic violence, building healthy teen relationships, parental issues, foster care, addressing discriminatory housing barriers for victims of domestic violence, and addressing domestic and sexual violence, substance use and mental health issues. Each program tool is designed to raise awareness, increase or enhance each individual’s knowledge base so that they are better equipped to deal with this type of crime.


Training_Curriculum_on_Effective_Police_Responses_to_Violence_against_Women [PDF]

The United Nations’ training curriculum is specifically designed to enhance the knowledge of the local and national police so they are better equipped to respond to reports of violence against women in intimate relationships. The online training lessons include effective measures of preventing violence, how to respond and investigate reports, and how to best utilize the available resources in order to meet the needs of victims during and after an incident.

Center for Disease Control

Training_Practice_Guidelines [pdf]

The CDCs Professional Training program concentrates on training techniques on how to deal effectively with the complexities involving sexual and intimate partner violence issues. Their comprehensive programs encompass many different people and groups that may have to address these issues and teaching multiple approaches on how to address these complicated situations. Some of the courses included in the program include: “Definitions of Sexual Violence and Intimate Partner Violence”, “Identifying the Needs or Problems to be Addressed”, and “Workplace Policies and Practices.” These programs can be tailored to address specific concerns in a community and the instructors are free to adjust the program accordingly.

The problem of violence against women has been around for centuries and will not be overcome without taking a proactive approach to redirect people’s thinking and attitudes towards women. These online training courses can be very effective tools at reaching people who may not be able to get this information otherwise. Considering the fact that as of 2014 1/3 of the world’s population now has access to the Internet, an online means of education is the most available.

Note: Image source hannes.a.schwetz

Crime Against Women – Statistics Around the World


For centuries women have been subjected to injustices all across the globe. As part of our own history, women have only in the last 100 years begun to emerge as viable participants in our modern society. Throughout the passage of time, even in cultures where women held a relatively acceptable role it was only secondary to that of any male counterpart in her family. It is that secondary status that has permitted most crime against women to be accepted by societies all over the world.

A Global Perspective

Although the passage of laws in more developed countries has brought about a reduction in violence against women, the problem still exists in large form due to lingering cultural attitudes. According to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, at least 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. Other reports go even further by saying that 70% have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

In countries like Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, this type of violence accounts for 40-70% of their female murder victims.

Rape as a Weapon of War

In countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina there were 20-50,000 women raped during their 1992-1995 wars. In Rwanda estimates suggest that 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were targeted for violent rape in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The tactic is used to humiliate, dominate, instill fear, disperse and forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group. According to the Global Justice Center, “rape is being used more than any other prohibited weapon of war including starvation, attacks on cultural objects, and the use of herbicides, biological or chemical weapons, dum-dum bullets, white phosphorus or blinding lasers.”


More than 64 million girls worldwide become child brides, however 46% of women between the ages of 20-24 in South Asia are reported to be married before the age of 18. This has resulted in early and unwanted pregnancies that bring on life-threatening risks for many adolescent girls making them the leading cause of death for girls between the ages of 15-19.

Human Trafficking

Every year millions of women and girls are brought into modern day slavery. At least 55% of those in forced labor worldwide and 98% of those in forced sexual exploitation are female. According to the UNODC, the most common form of human trafficking, making up 79% is sexual exploitation of women and girls. In regions of the world where there is a lot of political unrest like the Middle East, there has been an increase in the human trafficking of women as they are forced to flee conflict areas in search of refuge. Instead, many are then forced into prostitution and sex slaves in other countries.

European Countries

Even in the more developed European countries it is reported that between 40 – 50% of women experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work. According to the UNICRI, one in ten women have been stalked by a previous partner, 31% of women who report being raped by a partner have been repeatedly raped (six or more times) and just over one in ten women experienced some form of sexual violence by an adult before they were 15 years old.

The Americas

In the United States, 83% of girls aged 12 – 16 have experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools. The UN reports that in Latin America a woman is assaulted every 15 seconds in Brazil’s Sao Paulo. In Colombia, the number of cases where women have been disfigured by acid thrown in their faces quadrupled between the years 2011 – 2012. And of the 25 countries that are considered “high or very high” in rankings for “femicides” (killings of women that seem to be related to their gender), more than half are in the Americas.

Space does not permit the detailed listing of the rampant crime against women that happens on a global scale every day. It is clear that even in our modern day and age, the issue still remains to be of major concern. While these numbers may appear to be staggering it should be a sobering fact to note that even they represent a far lower number of crimes than actually occurred. Because of the shame and guilt felt by most, many crimes are never reported. It is clear that more work needs to be done in this area.

With the UN and other organizations campaigning worldwide in reeducation programs designed to change the view many people have about women, there has been a great deal of improvement but the problem still continues on a large scale. Even developed countries that claim to be more progressive still have underlying cultural biases that keep women in a more vulnerable position.

As more and more laws are passed like the Campus SaVE Act, designed to protect the human rights of women, we will continue to see a progressive change in the world’s view of women and a major reduction in these numbers and the promise of a better future for women the world over may eventually get fulfilled.

[Photo Andrea@flickr]

Crime Against Women – Statistics on Campuses and Campus SaVE Act


According to an interview with Susan Carbon, Director of the Department of Justice, even though the nation has witnessed a decrease in the area of violent crime in recent years, the area of crime against women has actually experienced a dramatic increase. Ms. Carbon pointed out that the primary areas of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking still continue to have a major impact on many women across the country.  Campus SaVE Act is a bold and necessary step towards addressing these crimes. As many statistics bear out, each year:

  • One in every four women will experience severe physical violence by a former spouse, boyfriend, or significant other.
  • Stalkers will victimize approximately 5.2 million women with domestic violence-related stalking being the most common.
  • One in five women can expect to be raped in their lifetime with 1.3 million rapes being reported every year.

Crimes Against Women on College Campuses

While these figures can be quite sobering, these four major crimes can be even more alarming when they occur on college campuses. However, there is an added layer of concern as statistics show that a major contributing factor to the increase violence against women on college campuses seems to be a direct result alcohol in many circumstances.

It appears that many college rapists avoid the justice system by targeting women who will not be considered credible because of alcohol, drug use, or some other similarly related factors. Their tactics are often to ply the women with alcohol before using force. The statistics seem to give weight to this argument:

  • 19% of undergraduate women reported experiencing completed or attempted sexual assault since entering college. The majority of these assaults occurred while the woman was incapacitated with alcohol.
  • There is a higher risk of incapacitated rape while a woman is in college.
  • More that 80% of undetected college rapists reported committing rapes of women who were incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol.
  • Still, as alarming as these figures are they are not reported with any level of accuracy.

Most Crimes are Unreported

While these statistics may seem a bit extreme it becomes even more disturbing when you consider that most crimes that involve violence against women go unreported, leaving their victims to suffer in silence because of traditional views and societal attitudes. For most women, they will be left alone with feelings of guilt and shame, never reaching out to seek the help the need from police, hospitals, crisis centers, or shelters. It is estimated that only 2% of victims of incapacitated rape reported the assault to law enforcement.

What Can Be Done About It

This paints a grim picture of the level of crime against women on college campuses, however there are other added layers of violence against women that are quite common when it comes to assaults that occur on college campuses. Consider the facts that unlike other forms of sexual assault or violence against women, many of these crimes are committed in full view of witnesses or bystanders.

With 60% of alcohol-facilitated rapes occurring at parties there are more often than not witnesses to the crime, yet few people feel compelled to intervene. Clearly, this is where the new Campus SaVE Act can be of immense support. With the need to change the campus culture a re-education needs to be implemented that will offer new programs like Bystander Intervention Training to change the social attitudes that continue to contribute to this growing problem on our nation’s campuses.

As we watch our nation’s campuses evolve under this new law, we’ll see new educational programs emerge to redirect college thinking starting from the top down. Administrators will be enlisted as partners in reaching out to all those involved. Bystanders will be less afraid to speak up when they see things without fear of repercussions and with the combined efforts of drug and alcohol abuse centers working with the school police, department of justice, and other authorities we will slowly begin to see much of the crimes changing making our campuses safe for women everywhere.

Photo credit Flickr


Crime Against Women - History of Laws Around the World


Back in the 18th century B.C., the Babylonian King Hammurabi established a governmental collection of 282 laws that established a set of conduct for his people in ancient Mesopotamia.  In that set of laws there were very clear distinctions laid out for both men and women. According to Hammurabi’s Code, “if a man killed a pregnant maid-servant,” he was punished with only a fine.  However if he were to kill a “free-born” pregnant woman, his own daughter had to be sacrificed as retribution.  Clearly, these pre-Biblical laws helped to shape people’s views of women from our earliest times in recorded history.  While Hammurabi may have been thinking of only his time, the influences of his laws have echoed throughout history and the same theme of crime against women has continued with little change for many millennia.

Mankind’s Historical Record of Crime Against Women

In 1997, according to the United Nations Human Development Report, after nearly 50 years of research and study, they came to a significant conclusion.

“No society treats its women as well as men.”  While the differences in the gender gap vary from country to country, they determined that women were more often than not relegated to second-class citizenship all around the world.  Here are a few examples.

The Congo

One of the most heinous demonstrations of crime against women, even in these modern times is the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  This country has earned the label of the “rape capital of the world.”  The prevalence and intensity of sexual violence against women has been described as the worst in the world.  The Congo has long held a history of violence against women but the offenses have increased in recent years because of the political unrest that is growing in the country since most of the militia believe that sexual assault against women is a justifiable weapon in times of war.


In countries like China and India, the term “missing women” refers to a skewing of the gender ratio.  In China for example, for many years a family was only allowed to have one child and since a male child is considered much more valuable than a female child parents were allowed to kill any female child born to them. Society, in many of these regions is now experiencing a shortage of women for their men to marry.

Western World - Crimes of Honor

Crimes of honor are considered to be crimes that are directly connected to the honor or shame of the men in society.  For years, in many western cultures many patriarchal societies have given men the authority over women in every aspect of their lives.  Through this authority, women can be overpowered and controlled by any male position (a boyfriend, husband, or father) in order to protect his position and status in society.  Any woman who did not comply with his rules, or established hierarchy was subjected to all manner of abuses throughout their lifetimes.

It has only been in the last century that women have slowly begun to close the gap between the sexes and have earned their own rights as dignified citizens of this modern world.  While crime against women continues to plague our society today, it is clear that with new laws constantly being established throughout the world the pattern is finally beginning to fade away.

Is it possible to see a world without crime against women in our future?  Many believe it is only a matter of time.  Until then, we have to rely on the continuous progression of laws to protect women from the historic violence that they have had to contend with for millennia

Photo Credit: Ben Sutherland

Campus SaVE Act - How to Comply


With the new Campus SaVE Act now signed into law, educational institutions are now expected to meet even more details included in this expanded view of violence. The new reporting guidelines outline additional obligations and that require them to implement very specific policies, procedures, and training for staff, faculty, and students in regards to sexual and intimate partner violence. The new law, passed in March of 2013 is quite detailed and will require all higher educational institutions that receive financial aid programs under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to comply with every aspect of it. This could be a challenge for some institutions as they not only need to understand the new language of the law but also how it has been expanded from previous laws to include gays, lesbians, transgender individuals, Native Americans and male victims of dating, sexual assault, and stalking.

Here are some of the most basic efforts that every institution should include to help them to prepare to comply with this new law.

Public Awareness

One of the first things that every university should begin with is a campus wide public campaign that informs everyone involved about the new law. These announcements and programs should encourage a collaborative effort to let anyone who could possibly be affected by the new Campus SaVE Act to know of the requirements and what will be expected of them. This means informing students, faculty, campus security, human resources, residence staff, counselors, and health staff of the changes and what is to be expected.

Collect Data for Campus SaVE Act

Institutions must also begin collecting and compiling data about the new categories of crimes that fall under the law. These will include hate crimes based on gender identity or national origin. This is required information that must be included in their ASR reports due to be submitted in October of 2014.

Consult With Legal Counsel

The law is very detailed and may need clarification for some so it is advisable that every institution consult with their legal counsel and review each of the required policies, the proper procedures, and practices that may possibly be construed as sexual misconduct in order to determine what actions and adjustments may be needed for them to meet these additional expectations.

Implement Training Programs

In addition, they must revise existing programs or implement new educational training programs for all students, staff, and faculty so that the expanded understanding of the new law will be fully understood by everyone that may be impacted in some way by the new Campus SaVE Act.

A Good Faith Effort

While preliminary guidance regarding the new reporting regulations were issued in May of 2013, there are still more details expected in regards to the new requirements, all involved institutions are expected to make a “good faith effort” to begin compliance while they are waiting for more clarification on the new crime reporting rules.

Consult the U.S. Attorney General

It is strongly recommended by Congress that all institutions look to the U.S. Attorney General’s office and the Secretary of Health and Human Services for assistance in the best way for them to comply. They should be assured that they will receive the guidance they need on all types of prevention and educational programs and procedures that can be best applied to their situation.


[Photo credit: Mark Fischer flickr ]