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Sexual assault on college campuses is a critical and dynamic topic for institutions of higher education. Prevention, education, and response to sexual assault is a highly collaborative and organized effort at The College at Brockport. The 2016 Sexual Violence Prevention survey was a NYS Education Law Article 129-B, “Enough is Enough,” legislative mandate and The College was one of 15 State University of New York (SUNY) pilot campuses to test the survey instrument on SUNY’s behalf. The College disseminated two separate online surveys, both of which SUNY drafted, in October 2016: One for students, and one for faculty and staff. None of the SUNY schools was able to modify the surveys, except to specify its respective available campus resources. The purpose of the student survey was to measure knowledge, perceptions, and opinions concerning the College’s management of complaints of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking, test the students’ awareness of Title IX policies and procedures, and collect information on the rates of sexual harassment, sexual assault, etc., among our students. Since the legislative mandate covers students and not faculty and staff, the survey for faculty and staff was shorter and primarily focused on employees’ knowledge and perceptions of how the campus handles students’ complaints of sexual violence, their exposure to Title IX information and trainings, their knowledge related to how to report an incident, and resources for victims.
This confidential online survey was disseminated via Email to all students (n=8048), both undergraduate and graduate, in October 2016. A total of 597 students began the survey, while only 308 students completed it. In other words, 7.4% of The College at Brockport students began the survey, but only 3.8% of the total student population completed it. Accordingly, only 59% of student respondents who began the survey completed it. Of the 308 students who completed the survey, 80% were undergraduates; 75% were women; 85% were ages 18 to 24; nearly 90% lived on campus; 76.5% were White and 11% were African American or Black students. Since the questions on demographics were at the end of the survey, the College is not able to accurately describe the demographics of all the respondents.
Despite frequent Email reminders and an awareness campaign, the student response rate was low. Thus, the quality of the results may be impacted by the low response rate, in that the response rate is not representative of the student population.
Because The College was not able to modify the survey, except to indicate what resources were available if students became upset by the nature of the questions, the result was that students found some questions confusing. For example, one question asked about students’ awareness of the College’s “Campus Advocacy Center.” The College does not have an “Advocacy Center.” In addition, from the two student focus groups conducted following the close of the survey, The College learned that students found the survey: 1) was too long; 2) took too much time to complete (over 30 minutes); and 3) contained some questions that were too wordy and very personal, which caused them to feel uncomfortable responding.
Key Findings of the Sexual Violence and Prevention (SVP) Student Survey
Some key findings include:
- Students are aware they can report a sexual assault to the Title IX Coordinator (70% of respondents), and the majority of student respondents know they can report a sexual assault to University Police (93%) and Counseling Center (92%).
- Most student respondents received written or verbal information from the College on
Title IX, including but not limited to:
- Title IX protections against sexual assault (66%);
- The definition of sexual assault (65%);
- Where to get help (66%); and
- Who is a confidential reporting official (69%).
- Only 40% of student respondents reported receiving training on prevention of a sexual assault.
- Most student respondents (62%) know how to file a sexual assault report.
- Most student respondents (61%) feel The College would take their report seriously, with 25% not sure.
- Most student respondents (64%) feel The College would provide necessary support during an investigation, with 23% not sure.
- Most student respondents (51%) feel that College officials handle incidents of sexual violence in a fair and responsible manner, with 30% neither agreeing nor disagreeing.
- There were mixed results regarding whether student respondents feel The College does enough to protect their safety with respect to sexual violence (43% strongly agree/agree; 26% neither agree nor disagree and 31% disagree/strongly disagree).
- The majority of student respondents (85%) were aware of the affirmative consent definition prior to the survey, and the majority (95%) know that someone who is incapacitated cannot provide consent.
- 6% (n=20) of student respondents reported experiencing an attempted sexual assault within the last year and 5.1% (n=16) reported experiencing a sexual assault within the last year.
- Of all the student respondents (n=181) who reported experiencing some form of sexual
harassment, sexual exploitation or sexual assault, in reference to the most recent
incident, 50% (n=90) knew the person (perpetrator) who was affiliated with the campus;
and in those cases, 88% responded that the perpetrators were students. The percentage
of respondents who knew their perpetrator (50%) was much lower than the national research,
which reflects that 85 – 90% of sexual assaults reported by college women are perpetrated
by someone known to them (National Institutes of Justice, 2008).
- 41% (n=71) told someone about the incident, and that person was a roommate or housemate (52%) or a friend (31%). Only 9% of student respondents used “formal procedures to report the incident.”
- Of those who responded that they reported the incident (n=15), most (60%) reported that the procedures helped them to deal with the incident.
- The majority of student respondents responded they would engage in pro-social bystander
- Getting help and providing resources for a friend who has been sexually assaulted (93%);
- Asking a friend if they need help walking home from a party (94%);
- Helping a very drunk person who is being led to a bedroom by a person(s) at a party (86%); and
- Expressing discomfort if someone says rape victims are to blame for being raped (93%).
Overview of Recommendations
Since only one-quarter of the student respondents (n=85 out of 356 who responded) reported knowing how to find the Title IX office, the College will increase efforts to raise awareness of the location and purpose of the Title IX office, the identity of the members of the Title IX team, and the services that the office provides. The following are recommended strategies to increase awareness:
- As a supplement to the online program Think About It, require students to view videos that the Title IX team is developing. The video is SUNY led, but created and individualized by the College - Sexual and interpersonal violence Prevention And Response Courses (SPARC) - about the College’s team and its response to sex discrimination, sexual assault, dating violence etc.;
- Host a Title IX Open House;
- Increase visibility for Title IX team (student conduct, Title IX investigators, etc.);
- Contact The Stylus to do a feature article about the College’s response to reports of sex discrimination, sexual assault, dating violence, etc.;
- Organize a Title IX campaign and/or implement another KNOWYOURIX Awareness Day;
- Continue Title IX visibility on campus by participating in campus-wide events, Take Back the Night (TBN), Clothesline Project, Keep It Sexually Safe (KISS) Fair, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, and other events hosted during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), continue to host lectures by national speakers/content experts on campus, etc.;
- In addition to the Title IX Syllabi statement, provide faculty with supplemental information on Title IX Coordinators, office location, services to use as a guide for reviewing the Title IX Syllabi statement;
- During new student orientations (Summer & Transfer Orientation), schedule a Title IX in-person presentation for students;
- Implement a strategic plan for infusing Green Dot Bystander Training for the campus;
- Continue to host Campus Safety Open Forums; and
- Further explore students’ survey responses by hosting focus groups in order to gain a better understanding of their perceptions regarding what the College does to protect them from sexual violence and their general perceptions on how the College handles complaints of sexual violence.
This confidential online SUNY pilot survey was disseminated during the same time frame as the student survey, to 1,334 faculty and staff. Employee demographic information was not collected for this survey, and the College was not allowed to modify this SUNY drafted survey. Approximately 250 employees started the survey, with 205 completing it. Most of the respondents (42%) were employed at the College for more than 11 years; 22% were employed 6 – 10 years; 28% were employed 1-5 years; and about 7% had worked at the College less than one year. The survey questions were designed to measure employee perceptions of students’ complaints of sexual harassment and sexual assault and how the College would handle these complaints. In addition, employees’ knowledge about the role of the Title IX coordinator, how to report an incident, and campus resources for victims were also measured.
Key Findings of the Sexual Violence and Prevention (SVP) Faculty/Staff Survey
Some key findings include:
- The majority of faculty and staff respondents have received written or verbal information
from The College on:
- Definition of sexual assault (74%);
- How to report a sexual assault (71%);
- Where to get help if someone has been sexually assaulted (72%); and
- Title IX protections against sexual assault (81%);
- The majority of respondents (91%) know they can formally disclose a campus sexual assault to Title IX coordinator;
- Most (66%) know how to find the Title IX coordinator (23% Do not know; 10% Unsure),
- Responses to questions about safety of students:
- Nearly 45% of faculty/staff respondents feel The College should do more to protect students from harm with respect to sexual violence (nearly 17% disagree and 39% neither agree/disagree);
- Most (54%) feel The College does enough to protect the safety of students (with respect to sexual violence) (only 13% disagree and 33% neither agree/disagree);
- The majority (71%) believe the College would handle the “crisis” well (only 8.3% disagree and 21% neither agree/disagree);
- The majority (70%) believe there is a good support system on campus for students going through difficulties; and
- The majority of faculty and staff respondents are aware of campus resources, including:
- Student Conduct: 88%
- Title IX: 86%
- University Police (UP): 99%
- Counseling and Student Health: 97 and 96%, respectively
- Human Resources: 95%
- EAP: 86%
Overview of Recomendations
Faculty and staff have a general awareness of the duties and role of Title IX compliance and have received information and/or have participated in Title IX training, which has been regularly offered on campus since 2011. We recommend adding to the faculty and staff Title IX trainings more emphasis on the amnesty policy, confidential reporting resources, and reinforcing all that The College does to protect the safety of our students.