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Five Resources for Conducting Campus Climate Surveys at a Community College

Campus Climate Survey Resources and Tools Campus climate surveys are not only useful to 4 year private institutions and public universities, they can be very useful to community colleges as well. Although there are special circumstances which need to be taken into account for conducting effective climate surveys in community colleges, they can be adapted and administered successfully.

Here is a list of 5 helpful resources to assist you in creating and administering your campus climate survey. on Campus Climate Surveys

This is the official government website surrounding the issue of sexual harassment and assault. It gives general information about “how to respond to and prevent sexual assault.”

On their homepage, there is a link to their Resource Guide, which in turn gives schools several links to sources that are intended to help schools create their own campus climate surveys. The government’s own toolkit is included, which gives schools information on why the surveys are important, what they aim to accomplish, and how to successfully create and distribute a survey. This guide also includes a sample campus climate survey, which can be used as inspiration and adapted to your campus’ needs.

Learn from Other College's Campus Climate Survey Experiences

Possibly the most helpful resource for community colleges is learning from how other schools carried out their own campus climate surveys. Rutgers University--New Brunswick was the first university to run a pilot of this new campus climate survey. They documented their process, and created a document to share what they learned with other universities.

In their executive summary of their findings, they briefly mentioned the key lessons that they learned through the surveying process.

  • “Campus climate surveys provide more meaning when they are part of a larger assessment process.”
  • “The administration of campus climate surveys has the most impact when it is linked with the development of an action plan.”
  • “One size does not fit all.”
  • “It is important to find ways to represent all student voices.”
  • “A campus climate survey can be an educational tool in and of itself.”

We highly recommend reading Rutgers Campus Climate Surveys: Lessons Learned from the Rutgers-New Brunswick Pilot Assessment in full, as it provides very valuable insight into the survey process, as well as addressing problems they ran into. Detailed sections include methodology, preparation of assessment measures, implementation of measures, data analysis, and feedback on the survey experience.

Community Colleges and Campus Climate Surveys

Community colleges experiences with campus climate surveys serve as good resources.  There is an ever expanding number of community colleges who have completed campus climate surveys and have published their findings online. Grand Rapids Community College, Feather River College are just two that have publicly shared their experiences and findings. Since campus climate surveys should be tailored to your institution's specific needs, make sure to make the necessary changes on sample surveys to reflect your campus.

Online Survey Tools to Administer the Campus Climate Survey

There are numerous ways to survey a group of people, including interviewing, sending surveys in the mail, telephone, and handing out questionnaires. All surveys have their limitations, but the most adaptable and cost-effective surveying method for community colleges is the online questionnaire.

In choosing the right surveying tool for you, it is important to understand what type of capabilities you want your surveying tool to have. Do you need to have a high level of control on what the survey looks and feels like? Do you need for your statistical analysis to be done within that program, or do you only need a simple collection method to then analyze in a bonafide statistical package?

Idealware has a great article about different surveying tools and the needs they fill. They break down the different tools by ability and price.   One one end of the spectrum are simple and affordable options such as Survey Monkey, and on the other end of the spectrum is Qualtrics, a much pricier option.  The core requirement for Campus Climate Survey's is for the survey tool to ensure anonymity (e.g., IP addresses or any other identifiable data is not captured as part of the response).

Some colleges are engaging third party companies to run the campus climate survey as a stand-alone research project.  The budgetary requirement for this approach tend to be significantly higher.  For community colleges, there are a range of options that could fit their budget and need to augment capabilities.

Statistical Packages to Analyze Campus Climate Survey Response Data

For those looking to analyze survey results in a statistical program, one the one end of spectrum are simple tools such as Excel and on the other end are high sophisticated analysis packages such as STATA and SPSS. Both of these packages are heavily used in social science research. Many community colleges have access to some sort of statistical program.  An equally capable analytics software package gaining a lot of tracking in academic research and data analytics is R.  It is free and open source and its vast array of analytics and graphing libraries make it a formidable competitor to STATA and SPSS.   On


The benefit of using statistical packages in the analysis of surveys is that you can achieve results that are statistically significant. These packages are powerful and offer a multitude of ways to analyze your data, many of which cannot be completed in online survey tools. While they require skill to master, they yield powerful and trusted results.

Resources on your Campus

The last, but most important resource that is available to you in creating and administering your campus climate survey is your campus itself! Community colleges are filled with faculty and students qualified to assist you with survey research, especially those studying social science. In the planning of your survey, don’t forget to utilize the talent on your campus!

In the end, a campus climate survey conducted at a traditional 4 year university and one conducted at a community college may need to be adapted differently to meet their campus’ needs, but the resources used to create and distribute the surveys have a lot in common. In recognizing the tools available to you and your academic institution, you will be able to ensure the success of your campus climate survey.


Michigan Introduces “Yes Means Yes” Policy & Campus Climate Surveys

Campus climate survey at Michigan StateAlthough some may be weary of this decision, Michigan lawmakers have introduced “Yes Means Yes” policy, through Senate Bill 5102 and House Bill 4903 to the state. The senate bill was introduced September, 24, 2014 to make efforts to stop sexual assault on campuses. This makes it one of the 16 states who have been introduced or passed bills in relation to “Yes Means Yes” policy. "Bills like this in and of itself can't end sexual violence but it can be a very positive first step in changing the culture and the norms," said Executive Director Kathy Hagenian.

U Mich Leads the Pack on Campus Climate Surveys

Actions have been taken in Michigan colleges and universities. The forerunner, University of Michigan, currently administers Campus Climate Surveys. They have taken measures to reduce sexual assault and spread awareness of affirmative consent. The University of Michigan released the findings of a second campus climate survey of students on the Ann Arbor campus regarding sexual misconduct. U-M was one of 27 universities across the nation to participate in a survey sponsored by the Association of American Universities.

“This research [Campus Climate Surveys] is vitally important to our understanding of this problem so we can design education and prevention efforts in the most effective manner possible,” states their university president Mark Schlissel.

The university released a video earlier this year to bring additional awareness to the university’s commitment to creating a campus free of sexual assault, and broadly share the policy and reporting resources.

Universities and colleges in Michigan are beginning to enact progressive “Yes Means Yes” policy. After its introduction to the state, further action on sexual assault, affirmative consent, and campus climate surveys look like they may be in progress in the near future.

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Photo by David Paul Ohmer

Photo by Jeremy Bronson

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 ]