A campus wide climate survey on sexual assault will open to University of Portland students on March 1. The survey, which will inform campus administrators about issues of sexual violence at UP, is being administered by a third party vendor, Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) Consortium. The third-party is being used in order to ensure confidentiality, since the survey is not to serve as a reporting tool.
This survey will follow another being administered specifically by the Title IX review committee.
Associate Vice President for Student Development Matthew Rygg, who has served as a deputy Title IX coordinator at UP, said the survey will be “instrumental in helping us understand some of the attitudes and beliefs about sexual assault on campus,” in addition to improving campus education and prevention programs.
The HEDS survey will allow administrators to compare results with those of other universities, which Title IX Coordinator Lauretta Frederking says will be beneficial to understanding the issue, which has been raised on college campuses across the nation, in a larger context.
Representatives from various areas of the university have been involved in this initiative — Title IX, Student Affairs, Community Against Violence (CAV) and Institutional Research, according to Rygg. Elizabeth Lee, Director of Institutional Research, explained that the goal is to give students the opportunity to “share their opinions on the campus climate, on UP faculty/staff/administration response and share experiences with unwanted sexual contact or sexual assault.”
They hope that by administering a confidential survey, the results will give a more accurate representation of the violence that takes place on campus.
Lee said she is involved in this effort because the Institutional Research Office is responsible for collecting the information administrators need to ensure that they are improving quality of life for students. Lee says she is dedicated to the success of Title IX efforts at UP and hopes to get as much feedback on this survey as possible so administration will be able to respond to students’ needs.
Senior English major Emily Kline said she hopes that, given this opportunity, students will be honest, “but not sugarcoat things.” For Kline, as an RA in Corrado Hall, empowering students who report that they’ve experienced sexual violence is very important. Kline said she feels she’s received plenty of training on mental health, but little in regards to sexual violence.
“It’s really hard,” she said. “Every mental health training I have been given has been about believing people. Believing and validating. And then for the school to not do the same thing makes my job very hard.”
Recently, RAs from across campus were invited to a listening session with the Title IX review committee. Kline said that although many good points were brought up, “no one was willing to say that maybe we need to be more specific about the issues at hand.”
Kline says she hopes the survey will prompt the creation of official definitions for words like “intoxicated,” “incapacitated,” “stalking” and “harassment”.
Each student will receive an individualized link to the survey in their UP email inbox on March 1. According to Lee, this survey format will give students the ability to complete the survey in multiple sittings. If students decide part way through that they don’t want to participate, Lee says “UP will not receive partially completed survey data from HEDS.”