Campus Title IX Climate Survey Update
UA is committed to addressing and preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault on all of its campuses. As part of that effort, you have likely already heard that we will be conducting a systemwide climate survey dealing with sexual assault based on White House recommendations. This survey was planned to launch prior to the October visit and compliance review by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). But implementation hurdles and feedback from other universities led UA’s Title IX leaders and administration to delay the survey until after the holidays.
Because the survey is about sexual assault, some of the climate survey’s questions are explicit and could potentially trigger a response in a person who has experienced sexual trauma. Delays this fall pushed the survey’s launch up against holidays and final exams, and the Title IX leadership, concerned about potential negative impacts on students and staff during such sensitive times, decided to take more time and conduct the survey early in 2015 using a tool adapted to Alaska’s needs.
UA understands that a Climate Survey is important and wants to do it right. Climate surveys measure how often sexual violence occurs on college campuses and how students perceive such violence. Understanding other climate issues, such as students’ knowledge about reporting policies and resources for victims, their attitudes about prevention and their perceptions about how their community is addressing the problem of sexual violence, are critical pieces of information for improving campus responses. Conducted over a period of time, Climate Surveys reveal trends such as decreases in sexual assault, increases in reporting and increases in awareness. They can identify a particular campus problem, which gives Title IX offices the ability to tailor prevention efforts.
UA is still examining how best to conduct this survey. UA is not required to use the survey provided by the White House, and as the launch date approached we began to hear complaints about its contents and focus. Specifically, Title IX leadership heard reports from other schools that terms in the survey are sometimes unclear, that the needs of certain populations are not well addressed, and that the narrow focus on sexual violence misses the opportunity to evaluate other forms of sexual harassment including online stalking or harassment over social media. The Title IX group is revisiting the purpose and desired outcomes, including the content and format, of the survey to adapt it to address broader concerns and needs of Alaska’s populations.