November 1, 2018

Five Resources for Conducting Campus Climate Surveys at a Community College

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.

NotAlone.gov 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 the 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.

 

November 1, 2015

Campus Climate Surveys for Community Colleges

When going about conducting a campus climate survey, there are a number of factors that need to be taken into account. Community colleges have special considerations in the administration of their campus climate surveys. Issues surrounding student demographics and resources can all affect the success and results of your survey.
These considerations and differences do not make conducting a campus climate survey on a college campus impossible nor useless. Understanding these differences enable you to make the changes necessary to cater your survey to your particular institution's needs.

Student Demographics

Community colleges have a different student body makeup than that of a traditional 4-year college or university. One of the biggest mistakes you could make while conducting a campus climate survey on a community college campus is to assume that all of your students are the same.

To make sure that you are able to understand your survey results within the context of your different student groups, make sure to ask distinguishing questions, as well questions that would only apply to those particular students. This can be accomplished by placing skip-questions strategically within your survey; that way, students only answer questions that directly apply to them. Here are a few student types that require special consideration.

Part-time students

Community colleges generally have more part-time students than they do full-time students. This differs from more traditional colleges where there is a sizable student population that resides on campus and have more full-time students. When surveying, make sure to take their status into account. Part-time and full-time students may have different experiences on campus. For example, part-time students may be more likely to take night classes to make room for their work schedules and therefore get a different perspective of campus than day students.

2-year degrees

Campus climate surveys are meant to be administered every two years or so. This timeline is useful to see trends over time; conduct the surveys too frequently and it becomes harder to see the effect of policy changes or opinions. The fact that a lot of community college students pursue 2-year degrees means that many students will not be able to participate in a second survey. If any of your community college’s students are pursuing 2-year degrees, it may not make sense to follow up with students for future surveys.

Collecting information from 2-year degree students can still yield useful information even if you won’t be able to follow up with them again in subsequent years, as is the case with 4-year students, which allows for multiple opportunities to survey. In a way, you can use this to your advantage; every two years the majority of your students will be giving you a fresh and potentially less biased data of their experiences on your campus.

Older Students

Community college students tend to have a broader age range and educational backgrounds vs. traditional 4-year colleges and universities.  Make sure that the survey instrument allows for skip/branch logic so certain questions can be skipped if it does not apply to older student demographic.

Commuters

Community colleges see a fair number of students who commute to school. Commuters do not spend the same amount of time on campus, especially at night. They most likely do not live in the campus dorms, where many instances of sexual assault occur. While sexual assault can happen anywhere, anytime, commuters may not be the most helpful group to understanding campus climate. Make sure to ask distinguishing questions to sort answers from those that live on campus and those that don’t.

Community class members

Those involved in community classes are not considered enrolled students. However, they are important to survey because they interact with the campus as well. The problem with community class members is that they may not be involved in the campus awareness campaigns related to the campus climate surveys and may end up not participating in the campus climate survey. Community college’s campus climate survey questionnaire should include demographic questions that allow for segmenting the results by this group.  Your college may wish to forego surveying community class members and focus only on enrolled students, demographic questions can help you make sure of inclusion/exclusion.

Resources

The second biggest distinguisher between traditional 4-year universities and community colleges is resources. Community colleges may not have the funding or research teams that are often considered necessary to conduct a successful campus climate survey. However, do not let your funding or campus resources discourage you. Campus climate surveys can be conducted on budgets and with non-social science research teams.

Lack of funds

Community colleges often work with tight funds. Conducting a full campus climate survey can be an expensive project. For campuses with tight funding, hiring outside consulting teams may make economic sense, especially if you do not want to pay for surveying packages and statistical programs. Fortunately, most colleges have access to at least one of these types of programs, one of the biggest costs of conducting and analyzing a survey.

Other ways to save funds would be to assemble a small but competent team to create and conduct the survey. Besides having a small team, the survey may need to be shortened at first to save money on surveying costs. A small, concisely written survey is better than not administering a survey at all.

No research teams

Not all community colleges have research departments. This is especially relevant to trade and vocational schools who likely do not have the social science research skills or departments often used to conduct a campus-climate survey. The good thing is that a research department or school of social science is not necessary to conduct a successful campus climate survey. The lack of these main resources just means your college must get more creative with who they pick to create the survey. Research skills transfer into many disciplines, and there are bound to be students or faculty at your community college qualified for the job.

Conclusions

Conducting and administering a campus climate survey to a community college poses its own unique challenges, but it is not an impossible project. With the proper preparations and considerations taken into account, your survey can be successful and bring about valuable information about your campus.

November 1, 2015

Campus Climate Survey and New Initiatives at University of Chicago

The University of Chicago released its Spring 2015 Climate Survey NORC Report on September 1, 2015. The NORC, an independent research corporation, conducted the Sexual Misconduct Survey: “Attitudes, Knowledge and Experience” (also referred to as the Spring 2015 Climate Survey) on behalf of the University of Chicago in April 2015.

Design of the University of Chicago’s Campus Climate Survey

It was designed by the University faculty committee, based partially on a similar survey conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the “Not Alone” survey toolkit created by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.

Campus Climate Survey Achieved a Response Rate of 31%

All enrolled students who were at least 18 years of age at the time of the survey were invited to participate during a two-week field period that ended on April 28, 2015.  A total of 12,485 undergraduate students and graduate and professional students at the University’s Hyde Park campus were invited to participate in the survey. They completed surveys from 3,955 students, for an overall response rate of 31.7%.

New Programs and Priorities

Campus Climate-Surveys After the survey was completed, the University of Chicago is making new initiatives this coming year to address issues raised by the Campus Climate-Surveys.  They intend to substantially redesign the content and approach for their sexual misconduct prevention training, provide training for all new graduate and professional students, and launch a student-run website (umatter.uchicago.edu) that makes university policy, procedures and resources easier to access. You can view all of their initiatives here.

UC’s proposed efforts are their first steps toward addressing the results from this year's Campus Climate-surveys. During the fall quarter,  their Campus and Student Life (CSL) staff will bring together interested students to discuss key findings from the Spring 2015 Climate Survey with a particular focus on how the results can best inform the University’s prevention and education strategies. This will provide an all-inclusive meeting to help improve policy and community education of sexual assault on campus between both students and staff.

You can find the Spring 2015 Climate-Survey Executive Survey here.

October 25, 2015

Will Other State’s Follow NY’s “Yes Means Yes” Policy

“Yes Means Yes”, also formally known as S5965, is leading the way with new and improved sexual assault policy and campus climate surveys. It won a unanimously popular vote in New York; which is one of the most densely populated and diverse states in the nation.
The bill was signed into law July 7, 2015 and it requires both parties to obtain consent for each step and action related to sex. The law applies only on college campuses. At its heart is a simple concept: instead of "No Means No," it's "Yes Means Yes."

It switches the dynamic of consent in what could be an empowering way. The aims to change the power structure of the “hook-up” and making it law, in hopes that college sexual assaults will decrease especially with mandated campus climate surveys. The legislation, proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and called "Enough is Enough," was passed unanimously by the state Legislature.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is breaking down barriers with his legislation. This is a progressive movement in favor of reducing sexual crime in colleges. The Yes Means Yes Policy is formally articulated as such:

An act to amend the education law, in relation to the implementation by colleges and universities of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking prevention and response policies and procedures; and to amend the civil practice law and rules, in relation to  privacy of name in certain legal challenges to college/university disciplinary findings; and making appropriations...

So if “Yes Means Yes” is passed in New York? Why not everywhere else? Here are Five Reasons why the rest of the United States should follow their lead.

1- Fulfill the Need for a Uniform Definition of Affirmative Consent to Sexual Activity

All ambiguity will be relinquished when states implement a statewide definition of affirmative consent. The definition for New York reads as follows:

"Affirmative consent is a knowing, voluntary and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant's sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression."

If implemented on a national level, or even on a state level, it will relinquish confusion of the boundaries of affirmative consent. This will aid in confusing legislation and court cases, because the meaning would be clear and concise nationwide and statewide.

2- Policy for Alcohol and/or Drug Use Amnesty

Provides that no bystander or victim that reports, in good faith, any incident of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, will be charged with an alcohol or drug use violation of the institution's code of conduct.

This is a great step in the direction for students to build their faith in the universities, and coming forward for crimes that happen during parties, and outings. The people affected are college students and most cases are likely to happen during events in which alcohol is involved.

3- Increases Options for Survivors

Requires that an institution adopt and implement a "Students' Bill of Rights" as part of its code of conduct. The Bill of Rights shall include, but is not limited to, the opportunity to report a sexual assault to law enforcement or the institution, to be protected from retaliation, and to access services and resources. The Bill of Rights shall be distributed widely to students and college community members and shall be sent electronically to students at least once annually.

The student bill of rights allows options for survivors to confess crimes and seek justice. The availability of two options will likely increase chances of reporting crime.

4- Student Onboarding and Ongoing Education Campaign

Requires institutions to develop and implement a year-around, ongoing campaign on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking education and prevention.

With students on board and informed about sexual assault, they will potentially begin to stand up against crime and spread the message across campus. This shows how the students have power with their voices.

5- Campus Climate Surveys/Assessments and Improvement

Institutions will be required to conduct a campus climate survey (assessment) developed using standard and commonly recognized research methods, and to conduct the climate survey no less than every other year. Each institution will ensure that answers to Campus Climate Surveys remain anonymous and that no individual respondent is identified. Each institution shall also publish the high-level results of such surveys on their website provided that no personally identifiable information shall be shared.

This requires the disclosure of public information of Campus Climate Surveys while also keeping it’s respondents as anonymous. All information will be broadcasted on their university websites, giving students and parents access to instances of sexual assault as well as students general attitude about the campus climate.

Campus climate surveys will create the transparency institutions needs to know where they stand and prioritize areas they need to improve.

Domino Effect? “Yes Means Yes” Law May Be Applicable For The Rest

Many states have already have some form of sexual assault policy and implementation strategy. The feasibility of implementing the “Yes Means Yes” policy statewide (and strictly only in federally funded colleges and universities) can mean that other states can easily adopt these policies, because they already currently exist.

The “Yes Means Yes” policy (S5965), requires all colleges and universities in the State of New York to implement uniform prevention and response policies and procedures relating to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. There is already an existing policy in states like Michigan. Why shouldn’t states follow New York’s lead with “Yes Means Yes” policy and campus climate surveys?

All in all, “Yes Means Yes” law has been improved, refined, clarified and successfully implemented in two US states. Due to the broad scope of this policy, it is malleable and able to mold and custom-fit into different colleges and universities. It holds a huge capability of spreading around the nation and going viral. With that, it has great potential to be applicable to the rest of the states. The only question is, will they begin to follow suit?

October 25, 2015

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

Although some may be wary 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 the “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.

October 22, 2015

Campus Climate Surveys: What to Expect

The surveys aims to give institutions the opportunity to better understand their campus and to make informed decisions about how to create and improve the safety of their educational environment. Recently, the US Senate Hearing 7.29.15 addressed the official bill The Campus Accountability and Safety Act. With that, the White House Task Force is adamant about cracking down on sexual assault and violences on campus.  With that, this upcoming year Campus Climate Surveys will potentially be federally mandated for all colleges and universities.

The first step in solving a problem is to name it and know the extent of it -- and a campus climate survey is the best way to do that.
The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault

Several states like California and New York have already adopted these surveys and other policies like “Yes Means Yes”. This is a standard that requires affirmative consent — affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity — throughout the encounter, removing ambiguity for both parties. With these two proactive states leading the way, the Campus Climate Surveys surveys will soon be required as part of a Title IX/Clery Act compliance program.  So what do these tests entail?

They compromise student and employee knowledge about:

    • The Title IX Coordinator’s role;
    • Campus policies and procedures addressing sexual assault;
    • How and where to report sexual violence as a victim/survivor or witness;
    • The availability of resources on and off campus, such as counseling, health, academic assistance;
    • The prevalence of victimization and perpetration of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking on and off campus during a set time period (for example, the last two years);
    • Bystander attitudes and behavior;
    • Whether victims/survivors reported to the College/University and/or police, and reasons why they did or did not report.
    • The general awareness of the difference, if any, between the institution’s policies and the penal law; and
    • The general awareness of the definition of affirmative consent.

With the topics being brought to light in the college community, many people will now be educated about the basics of sexual assaults and what to do if involved. Many people remain unaware about the severity and frequency of sexual assaults. So, the surveys are an excellent tool in providing “education” to people who would otherwise be blind to an offensive and serious situation.

Surveys May Hold Problems Clearing Areas Of Ambiguity

The surveys seem invaluable but, there are also challenges like areas of ambiguity for the utilization and implementation of them. It is unclear for what purpose a climate survey would be used: “Is it intended as a consumer information tool, an institutional improvement tool, an enforcement mechanism or some combination of all three?” The answer to this question could have a substantial impact on how a survey is designed and on how schools and others react to its results.

However, the plausibility of how these tests results can impact schools across the nation is incremental and erases many doubts. But, the usage and implementation continue to be questioned. As legislation improved and becomes widespread, we will begin to see a change in colleges and universities. California and New York provide proof that Campus Climate Surveys and “Yes Means Yes” legislation can work and be properly enforced.

Forerunners New York and California Enacted 2015-16 Bills

New York and California are two out of fifty states to enact “Yes Means Yes” legislation requiring Campus Climate Surveys and legislation against sexual assault state-wide. As these forerunners continue to implement their policies, they set an example for the rest of the states to follow.

 

The leader of the pack, California created a standard in 2014 that requires affirmative consent throughout the encounter, removing ambiguity for both parties. The law protects both individuals by ensuring that there is a mutual understanding. Legislation deems a person who is incapacitated by drugs or alcohol cannot give consent. With this legislation, California colleges are being held more accountable for prevention, evaluation and a consistent protocol surrounding sexual assault.

New York’s Campus Climate Assessment Policy gives institutions the opportunity to increasingly understand their campus and to make informed decisions when it comes to providing a safe educational environment. Beginning in the 2015-2016 academic year, each State University of New York State-operated and community college will conduct a uniform climate survey that ascertains student experience with and knowledge of reporting and college adjudicatory processes for sexual harassment, including sexual violence, and other related crimes.

With these states creating the standard, Affirmative Consent laws and policies are making their way through the states. To Keep updated with continuing legislation, here is an updated list of Title IX Schools under investigation for Sexual Assault by the US Department of Education.

Affirmative consent legislation isn’t just about the more than 20 percent of young women and girls who will have to live as assault survivors. It’s about 100 percent of women who have to live every day, never quite certain of their physical safety. Research shows that with affirmative consent education, we can create a culture of respect.”

 

October 22, 2015

Campus Climate Survey – How The Legislation Has Evolved

The Early Aspects Of Legislation

Campus Climate Survey - Over the past two years, campus sexual violence has grabbed the attention of filmmakers, lawmakers and the White House. This issue is garnering lots of attention — which is good for students safety in colleges and universities.

From the start, United States legislation has struggled in concisely defining “affirmative consent”. The policy colloquially known as “No Means No”, deemed to be a problem early on with its adoption at universities because of it’s loose terms of sexual assault. For many years, student reports of assault have been frequently mishandled. This discouraged survivors to come forward and identify themselves as victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. The majority of state laws define sexual assault using the old consent standard (“No Means No”) in terms of campus sexual assault. However, there are sex offenses that can be charged in the criminal justice system using an affirmative consent standard. While “no means no” has become a well-known slogan, it places the burden on victims, which makes it their responsibility to adamantly show resistance.

Unfortunately, early legislation faltered in identifying assaults and effectively executing its laws to implement safety for students in college. Since “No Means No” and other policies have been lackluster in its efforts, the government and several states have taken strides for improvement.

This has led to the establishment of Campus Climate surveys. The surveys are created to afford institutions the opportunity to better understand their campus and make informed decisions when it comes to providing a safe educational environment. The states that utilize this service will conduct a uniform climate survey that ascertains student experience with and knowledge of reporting. As well as college adjudicatory processes for sexual harassment, sexual violence, and other related crimes.

Recently, the state of California enacted SB 967 legislation to make “Yes Means Yes” the consent standard on college campuses, which takes a major step toward preventing sexual violence. This legislation requires preventative education during student orientation, increased access to counseling resources and training for adjudication panels. Thus, we begin to see a shift in policy and legislation being adopted by universities that increases security and prevention of continual sexual violence on campuses.

Confining The Confusion of Legislation

Presently, the implementation of Campus Climate Surveys and new legislation have made huge strides in confining the confusion of sexual assault on campus. Legislation is beginning to narrow down the definition of consent and sexual assault. Each has it’s own interpretation like California, whose  “Affirmative consent” means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent”. Making these terms transparent is very important in effectively tackling the problem.

Until now, these sanctions have been voluntarily adopted by colleges; SB-967 gives them the backing of a government mandate. In addition to creating a vaguely and subjectively defined offense of nonconsensual sex, the bill also explicitly places the burden of proof on the accused. Stating that they must demonstrate that he (or she) took “reasonable steps … to ascertain whether the complainant affirmatively consented.” Policies as such are controversial and burden the victims more than necessary.

One of the task force's recommendations for revising sexual misconduct policies included defining consent as a "voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity." Past consent should not imply consent, nor should silence or the absence of resistance, the guidelines recommend.

Schools nationwide are in the process of rewriting or have already rewritten their sexual assault policies, procedures and prevention education programs to meet standards in the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, known as the Campus SaVE Act. That took effect in 2013 as part of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. With a fairer process, more students are coming forward to report crimes, and in time campuses will be safer.

Improvement of  the Federal Government’s Enforcement Efforts

The Obama administration is working to improve the Federal Government’s enforcement efforts, and to make them more transparent in practice. He states:

“We need to build on these efforts. To better address sexual assault at our nation’s schools, we need to both strengthen our enforcement efforts and increase coordination among responsible federal agencies. Also, and importantly, we need to improve our communication with students, parents, school administrators, faculty, and the public, by making our efforts more transparent.”

In 2014 President Obama proposed this call to action to identify the problem and to solve it. The White House Task Force was created to protect students from sexual assault. They have proposed a new standard to dealing with sexual assault on campus strive to show sexual assault survivors that they are not alone. The Task Force helps schools live up to their obligation to protect students from sexual violence.

  1. Identify the scope of the problem on college campuses;
  2. Help prevent campus sexual assault;
  3. Help schools respond effectively when a student is assaulted; and
  4. Improve, and make more transparent, the federal government’s enforcement efforts.

Obama has stated that, Campus Climate Surveys are necessary and will be mandated in 2016. He feels that a mandate for schools to periodically conduct a climate survey will change the national dynamic. The Federal government will have a better picture of what’s really happening on campus. Schools will be able to more effectively tackle the problem and measure the success of their efforts (notalone.gov)

Developing A Comprehensive Sexual Misconduct Policy

The Task Force has created a way for colleges and universities to have an easily accessible, user-friendly sexual misconduct policy. They realize that many schools do not have adequate policies and that there is no one approach that suits every school. So they have created a policy aid that will help with the grey area that each school will have due to their diversity.  The White House Task Force states:

We are providing schools with a checklist for a sexual misconduct policy. This checklist provides both a suggested process for developing a policy, as well as the key elements a school should consider in drafting one. Importantly, schools should bring all the key stakeholders to the table – including students, survivors, campus security, law enforcement, resident advisors, student groups (including LGBTQ groups), on-campus advocates, and local victim service providers. Effective policies will vary in scope and detail, but an inclusive process is common to all.

In June of 2014, they provided schools with a sample Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with local law enforcement. The MOU can help open lines of communication and increase coordination among campus security, local law enforcement and other community groups that provide victim services. This can also improve security on and around campus, make investigations and prosecutions more efficient, and increase officer's’ understanding of the unique needs of sexual assault victims. They will explore legislative or administrative options to require colleges and universities to conduct an evidence-based survey, also known as Campus Climate Surveys, in 2016.

In essence, The White House Task Force has played a big role in the improvement of legislation in colleges and universities with sexual assault. They seek to clearly define the problem, identify it, and solve it. The implementation of Campus Climate Surveys is a very important aspect of this process. It’s mandatory implementation in 2016 will only lead to vast improvement in sexual assault policy and legislation on college and university campuses nationwide. Policy and legislation has only improved since progressive policies have been implemented and helping  sexual assault become widely known all over the nation.

 

Photo by Mark Fischer

October 21, 2015

The 7 Steps to Conducting a Successful Campus Climate Survey

If your educational institution has decided to conduct a successful 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.

 

October 21, 2015

Introduction to Campus Climate Surveys

Introduction to Campus Climate Surveys - 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?
Introduction to Campus Climate Surveys - 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 a 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

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