Campus Climate Survey – Spring 2015

As noted by the Department of Education, “Sexual assault is a significant challenge for colleges and universities nationwide, affecting the health, mental health, and academic success of students.” They acknowledge that schools are working to address sexual assault and to be in compliance with Title IX, but lack assessment tools to understand the scope or nature of the problem. In order to help educational institutions fulfill the soon to be required campus climate assessment , the Department of Education (DOE) and Department of Justice (DOJ) developed a sample survey instrument based on science and best practices to accurately measure the problem of sexual assault at a given school.

Survey Structure and Process

The development of the survey instrument was a collaborative effort using the DOE/DOJ sample survey, our own staff and the staff at Campus Labs. Our survey contained 60 items to measure the extent of the problem, context of the incidents, the student’s views on disclosure and reporting, perceptions of overall climate of the university, knowledge of policies and resources, their experience with intimate partner violence, the readiness to help when observing an incident and confidence to intervene as a bystander. The survey was distributed for two weeks through a secure on-line portal. 226 students responded; 65% women, 33% men, 2% gender non-conforming. 81% were white, and 81% were heterosexual.

Key Findings

  • 8% reported that someone attempted but did not succeed in having sexual contact by using or threatening to use physical harm.
  • 9% reported they had sexual contact and were unable to provide consent or unable to stop what was happening.
  • 12% acknowledged some form of unwanted sexual behavior since they first enrolled at Alfred University. 41% of the other people involved were AU students, and 78% occurred off campus, including hometowns/breaks. Respondents were evenly split across class years from first to fourth year.
  • 41% of respondents did not report their incident(s) to anyone, and only one reported the incident through formal procedures.
  • Top two reasons for not reporting incidents were “you wanted to forget it happened” and “you did not think others would think what happened was serious.”
  • 56% of respondents did not believe they had received training regarding policies/procedures related to sexual assault.
  • 62% knew where to go if they or a friend were sexually assaulted.
Pie chart of students agreeing with the statement 'Alfred universtiy provides adequate support for students going through difficult times'

What was surprising or unexpected?

  • 72% agree that they feel as though they belong at AU and are part of the campus environment.
  • 70% agreed that they are happy at AU. First-year students rated this item lower than other class years.
  • 63% agree that administrators, public safety officers, and other college officials are active in protecting students from harm.
  • 62% agree that AU would handle a crisis in an appropriate manner.
  • 59% agree that students can file sexual assault reports without being retaliated against by close friends of the alleged offender.
  • 62% agree that the individual who files a sexual assault report would not suffer academically or professionally.
  • 58% do not understand AU’s formal procedures for addressing complaints of sexual assault (via ratings of Neutral through Strongly Disagree).
  • Of the 12% who reported unwanted sexual behavior, the top perpetrators were non-romantic friends (26%), followed by strangers (22%).
  • Of the 12% (N=27) who reported unwanted sexual behavior, 21 were women, five were men and one was gender nonconforming.

Action items and follow-up

  • Students are receiving education regarding policies/ procedures related to sexual assault, prevention of these incidents, and how to report, but students are not retaining it so we need to revisit our methods. (We realize that much of our sexual assault programming is targeted toward how to intervene, consent issues, healthy communication, etc.— we don’t always label it “sexual assault prevention.)
  • Of those who recall receiving prevention training, 84% found it to be moderately to extremely helpful. Of those who received policy/procedure training, 81% found it moderately to extremely helpful. This is more evidence that while our programming is effective, more students need to receive it.
  • Student are more likely to be harmed by a non-Alfred University student than a fellow student, and more likely to be harmed off campus than on, including on breaks. We must adjust our education programs to take this into account.

Areas for Additional Follow-Up

  • This first survey was targeted only to students. In the future, we will develop a companion survey that will assess faculty and staff perception of campus climate.
  • We are satisfied with the response rate for this first survey, but in future years will strive for a higher response rate.
Bar graph showing students knowing where to go if they where sexually assaulted