University announces Sexual Assault and Misconduct Climate Survey launch

January 14, 2016

Sexual Assault and Misconduct Climate Survey / Photo: Liz Teitz

Georgetown’s first-ever Sexual Assault and Misconduct Climate Survey will be open to all degree-seeking students at the university on Jan. 14, Rosemary Kilkenny, Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity, said on Jan. 13. The survey, which was developed by members of the Sexual Assault Working Group (SAWG) and Climate Survey Working Group (CSWG), aims to collect data on students’ experiences with sexual assault and misconduct, as well as on awareness of resources and services.

Students on the main and medical campuses, Law Center and School of Continuing Studies will access the online survey through a link to be sent out in an email to the student body from University President John DeGioia on Jan. 14. It takes, on average, between twenty and thirty minutes to complete, and will be open until Feb. 6, according to Georgetown’s website for sexual assault and misconduct information and resources. The survey is confidential, and results will not be tied to the reporting system for violations of Title IX or university policy. Students will be able to stop during the survey and continue at a later time, and the pages include an ‘escape’ button to take the user away from the site in the case of being triggered by its content or otherwise needing to exit the survey.

The survey is a modified version of one developed by the Association of American Universities (AAU), which was administered at 27 universities nationwide in the spring of 2015, including Harvard University, Dartmouth College and University of Pennsylvania; however, certain questions have been customized to best fit Georgetown specifically.

“A number of institutions similar to Georgetown have used the survey,” Kilkenny said, which will allow for comparisons between results at different schools.

Some of the customizations are intended to help analyze patterns in the data on the Hilltop, including providing space to identify student groups and organizations, according to Maddy Moore (SFS ‘17), GUSA Secretary of Student Safety and a member of both the SAWG and CSWG.

“We have classified large communities on the campuses,” she said, for students to be able to indicate their membership in groups such as varsity athletics, student-run businesses, and fraternities and sororities not recognized by the university, as well as their residence hall. The goal, Moore said, is to see if there are trends or more frequent occurrences within different communities, in order to develop targeted strategies for improvement in the future. “Additionally, we were able to take some questions and make them gender neutral,” Moore said, “or tailor them in ways we thought Georgetown students would be more receptive to.” The AAU survey also uses definitions that most closely align with those in Georgetown’s policies in order to ensure clarity, Kilkenny said.

The working groups, which included seven students on the CSWG and 14 students on the Climate Survey Marketing Committee, were designed to bring together students from all campuses that would be representative of the student body, as well as to maximize the impact of the survey’s promotional materials, which will include signs on campus as well as online and print advertisements. Additionally, a group of students in a statistically selected sample group will each receive a $10 Amazon gift card after completing the survey, while all other students will be able to enter a drawing to win one of five $100 Visa gift cards or one $500 gift card.

A successful survey, Moore said, would include a participation rate above 50 percent, as well as “seeing a clear follow through” from the university on the results. A thermometer banner in Red Square, designed by the Marketing Committee, aims to encourage students to participate by challenging them to reach a higher response rate than Dartmouth, at 42 percent, and Harvard, at 52 percent.

The data is set to be released in May 2016, and is to be made available first to the Working Groups, and then to the student body. “Going forward, once we have an assessment of the results, that will really inform our future action,” said Kilkenny. Moore echoed this, saying that she hopes to see the administration “taking the summer to really look at the results and come up with concrete guidelines for how to streamline resources and better provide for students.”

The survey is to be administered every other year going forward, with the goal of continuously assessing the campus climate. The information is vital to better understanding the prevalence of and resources for sexual assault and misconduct, Olson said. “Our long term goal is to do everything we can to eradicate sexual assault and violence on our campus.”

Editor’s Note: An error with regards to the survey’s incentives has been corrected to indicate that all other students will be eligible for the drawing.

Elizabeth Teitz
Liz Teitz is a former News Editor of The Georgetown Voice. She graduated from the college in 2016.

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