Indiana University Bloomington

IU survey explores student perceptions of sexual violence

  • Nov. 10, 2014

Editor's note: This story from The Bloomington Herald-Times is being published here as a courtesy for readers of IU in the News.

By MJ Slaby

All students on the Indiana University Bloomington campus will receive the same email this week. It’s an invitation to participate in the first campus climate survey about sexual violence.

“The survey is really about perceptions and beliefs,” said Emily Springston, IU chief student welfare and Title IX officer. Plus, she said it’s an opportunity to see the effectiveness of IU’s initiatives as well as the prevalence of sexual violence.

The survey was one of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault recommendations released in April. However, a campus climate survey was already in the works at IU for about two years, said Justin Garcia, an assistant professor of Gender Studies and a research scientist at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction.

Yet, he and other organizers said it depends on the students -- who have until early December to respond -- to make it successful.

“We’re going to ask them all to be a part of this with us and help us understand the problem,” Garcia said. “We need to understand the scope of the problem so we can eliminate it.”

Officials from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights visited IU’s campus in September as part of a Title IX compliance review. Since the visit, the officials have continued interviews and are interested in the results of the survey, Springston said.

She said once the data is compiled, it will also be shared internally and with the community.

Last week, IU also received a one-year, $165,000 grant from the Indiana State Department of Health to create additional positions in sexual violence prevention and response. It allows for a full-time and a part-time position in Bloomington as well as a full-time position at IU - Purdue University Indianapolis. These staffers will plan two universitywide conferences in 2015 for staff and students about effective practices.

Springston said the survey is one of many ways to gather feedback because it has a broad reach and and is anonymous. The survey will be administered by a company external to IU to ensure anonymity of students.

“This is an opportunity to learn from them,” said Leslie Fasone, IU assistant dean for women’s and gender affairs, who helped lead development of the survey with Garcia.

Questions include perceptions about university response, bystander behavior, experience with sexual violence and more. But they also are tailored to the IU Bloomington community with questions about various types of housing and if a student is from another country or not.

“These climate surveys aren’t one size fits all,” Garcia said.

Fasone added that by separating the perceptions and experiences by year in school, the survey will show what groups are at greater risk for sexual violence and what locations may be risky, Fasone said

“It’s a large survey, but we can learn quite a bit from it,” she said.