Author: Eileen Filliben Edmunds, JD/MBA Managing Partner, ModernThink LLC
“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
While campus climate surveys are not yet mandated, forward-thinking institutions are making the decision to conduct surveys. Why should your campus administer a survey now and not wait?
1. Surveys provide valuable data upon which to base your decisions and allocate scarce resources. At ModernThink, we’re fans of making data-based decisions. With one client, our survey data clearly showed that knowledge of campus resources on sexual misconduct was much greater with their incoming freshman than upperclassmen. This clear metric demonstrated that the investment in training worked, and they should carry it through with other students. Likewise, data we’ve provided our clients has helped them understand perceptions among different demographics on campus, provided clear feedback on campus violence prevention resources and revealed important new data on incidence and prevalence.
2.Conducting a survey sends a message to your campus that you are listening. And what sends an even stronger message is to share the data appropriately. When there is a lack of information, people tend to fill in the blanks themselves, and not always in a positive way. Conducting a campus climate survey is the right thing to do. We’ve seen that students, faculty and staff participating in a Title IX survey want to be heard. Use a survey to frame your dialogue about sexual misconduct and gender discrimination, and to solicit input on improvements and programs that would be most meaningful on your campus.
3.We know survey mandates are coming. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has made conducting climate surveys a requirement of many resolution agreements. Both pending legislations, (Campus Accountability and Safety Act and Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency on Campus Sexual Violence Act) require campus climate surveys. It’s unclear if a specific format will be prescribed, but we know surveys are coming. Surveys could be used to gather information, or as an enforcement mechanism. Future survey results might be made public. Wouldn’t you rather learn and act now while there’s time to make improvements? Obtain a baseline read and begin a longitudinal assessment of climate and culture evolution over time.
4.Surveys bring attention to an issue that needs to be addressed. What you don’t know can be dangerous and put your institution, students and employees at risk. We’ve heard institutions say “Sexual assault is not a problem here!” But are you sure? Don’t put your head in the sand. A survey allows you to close the gap between perception and reality, and helps you mitigate risk.
To learn more about a Fall 2015 Title IX survey collaboration between HERC and ModernThink, please visit www.titleixsurveys.com.
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HERC members receive a 10% discount on survey pricing.