The Office of Student Conduct has released a survey to all students in order to assess Marist’s climate of sexual assault and student’s perceptions on the school’s response to sexual misconduct. The survey was distributed via email on April 10th, with follow up emails on April 24th and April 27th. Students have until April 30th to participate.
Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Ed Freer, said the objective of the survey is to give leadership at Marist a better handle on how often sexual assault occurs at Marist. “As it is the most unreported crime, the survey will give us an avenue to tell us about how it’s happening on campus.”
Since the survey includes questions regarding students own experiences with unwanted sexual contact, the questionnaire is completely anonymous. Freer said this was part of the reason they decided to conduct the survey through an outside organization, Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium. This organization also provides a standardized survey in which to compare Marist’s results to other schools who have also taken the survey.
The school aims at seeking information regarding why students do not feel comfortable reporting incidents, as well as their view on how Marist treats and supports victims of misconduct. The survey also inquires students about their knowledge of Marist’s Title IX policies, affirmative consent standards, and their own perceived risk of sexual assault on campus.
“Our goal is to establish more of a prevention philosophy rather than merely a response”, said Freer.
Freer adds this is also why it is important to get participation from all students, not just students who were victimized. He said a better understanding of Marist’s bystander activity can help the school create programs aimed at intervention that guide students in how to act and respond to an incident of sexual misconduct.
In addition to creating more training programs, the school plans on expanding PR campaigns and establishing therapy groups if deemed necessary by the survey’s results. Freer said the Title IX team is planning to work with SGA next year in order to gauge student interest, and will possibly implement focus groups to continue to assess the climate of sexual harassment.
Freer said that another reason the school is conducting the survey is compliance with federal and state law. Campus Climate Surveys are a stipulation of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act introduced to the Senate in 2015. It requires that colleges survey their students on account of sexual assault every two years.
The survey takes between 15 and 20 minutes to complete, and students are free to skip any questions they do not want to answer.
“A lot of people have the ‘It will never happen to me’ attitude,” said Freer. “It is our goal to bring this issue into the forefront.”
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