The administration will send out an anonymous survey to the entire University community to get a more accurate picture of the climate surrounding sexual violence as part of “Not Alone,” the first report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.
Jackie Campbell and Bushra Sabri from the School of Nursing have spearheaded the efforts to put together this survey. Although the University originally planned to send out the survey earlier this month, an official date for the release of the survey has not yet been announced.
American colleges and universities are required to disclose all reported sexual assaults that occur on campus under the Clery Act, but numerous surveys have found that sexual assault is often unreported.
“As America’s first research university, Johns Hopkins is at its best when working with good data,” Provost Robert C. Lieberman said. “The climate survey is an attempt to ensure that as we take steps to change culture and craft policy, we do so in an informed and strategic manner.”
Vice Provost for Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger said that he hopes students will fill out the survey so that the University can evaluate their current efforts to curb sexual assault on campus. In the past year, the University has established a 24/7 helpline for victims of sexual assault and hired a Sexual Assault Prevention, Education and Response Coordinator.
“A climate survey will help us gather data about what is happening on campus,” Shollenberger wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “How our students perceive issues of sexual assault and available resources and how we can best continue to build a safe and secure environment for everyone. Many colleges and universities throughout the country are conducting climate surveys in this area.”
Although Shollenberger wrote that he hopes a majority of the student body will choose to fill out the survey, they cannot require students to do so. Unlike course evaluations, which the University requires students to fill out in order to receive their grades, the sexual assault climate survey is meant to be a scientific survey; thus, consent is required from every participant.
Sophomore Laura Marlowe said that although she believes the survey is a good idea, she is concerned that students will abuse their anonymity to misrepresent the reality of campus sexual assault.
“There’s no responsibility or liability for what they say because their name is not attached,” Marlowe said. “I would be concerned that some people would try to mess up the survey intentionally to skew or to in some way misalign what appears to be the general view of the student population.”
Marlowe cited an email from the University of Wisconsin-Madison sent to their students about how to prevent sexual assault. The email, which was widely shared on the Internet, stated that “sexual assault is never the fault of the victim” and encourages students to “practice being assertive about your boundaries.”
“It would be better to educate people to help stop problems that are currently going on,” Marlowe said.
According to the National Crime Victimization survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2014, college students are even less likely to report a sexual assault than those not in college.