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Campus climate surveys are becoming closer and closer to turning into government mandate. With sexual harassment and assault garnering increased media attention, college and university institutions can no longer remain silent and inactive. Your school may be Title IX compliant, but are you doing all you can do to protect your students? Because sexual harassment and assault are very complex issues, tackling the problem can be very confusing, and it is difficult to know where to start. One useful tool that can help you understand and prevent sexual assault on your campuses is a campus climate survey. It is important to understand exactly what these surveys are, and why they are important, to be able to implement them successfully.

What is a Campus Climate Survey?

A campus climate survey is comprehensive survey which gathers information on demographics, perceptions of administration, assault and harassment occurrence, attitudes and perceptions of sexual assault, etc. This type of survey is administered on a campus-wide basis, and responses are recorded anonymously.

The most important information that is gathered through this survey is the occurrence of sexual harassment/assault, and the attitudes of faculty, staff and students surrounding this issue. All of this information is then used to identify problems on campus, prevent future cases of sexual assault, and improve response to cases brought to the university or college.

Five Reasons Why Campus Climate Surveys are Important

1- Understand what is happening on your campus

Understanding the attitude towards sexual harassment/assault and how it expresses itself on your campus gives you a valuable tool to work towards correcting the problem.

If a college or university relies on reported rapes to gauge their campus atmosphere and safety, they are only seeing a fraction of what goes on. Studies have concluded that only 13% report a forcible rape, and an even smaller and shocking 2% report being raped if they were incapacitated during the incident. Anonymous surveys are more likely to yield accurate results as the anonymity makes it easier for students and faculty to express their true feelings and experiences. Understanding the statistics of sexual assault on your campus-- how often it happens, where it happens, how it is viewed-- is the first step to stopping it.

2- Identify goals

After you have collected results and analyzed the information from the survey, you should have a clear picture of what is happening on your campus. From here, you can address the areas of concern. With concrete data your administration can develop goals that are realistic and measurable. With solid evidence on your side, programs and initiatives are more likely to receive the funding they need.

3- Set Priorities

Change happens slowly, and it would be near impossible to address all issues surrounding sexual harassment and assault at once. A campus climate survey will help you identify your most pressing concerns first. By identifying your most pressing needs, programs changes and implementation will be expedited. You will also understand in what areas you will need to train your administrators to make your changes most effective.

4- Build Awareness and Gain Support

Sharing the results of the campus climate survey with your campus body, while it may be unflattering, can raise awareness for issues that did not have support before. Share your concerns and goals with your student body; they will see that the administration is actively working towards solutions and they can offer valuable resources (volunteering, marketing, research, etc.) to help accomplish the goals.

5- Measure progress

The continual administering of campus climate surveys lets you track the effectiveness of your programs and chart your progress. This is an invaluable tool to help you evaluate your programs and make necessary changes. There is no better way to track your progress than through campus climate surveys.

Your students and faculty are trusting their safety to you and your administration.

In the effort to make schools safe from sexual assault and harassment, campus climate surveys are a great tool to understand what is going on on campus and what areas can be improved. Since these types of surveys may become government mandated in the near future, it is important to understand what they are for and why they are important.

For more information about the purposes and importance of conducting campus climate surveys and fighting sexual assault, visit notalone.gov.  

Photo by romanboed