University releases preliminary report on campus climate survey

The University of Chicago is releasing a preliminary summary of results from the Sexual Misconduct Survey: Attitudes, Knowledge and Experience (also referred to as the Spring 2015 Climate Survey), conducted in April as part of an ongoing commitment to address issues of sexual assault.  

All UChicago undergraduates and graduate students aged 18 years and older were invited to take part in the anonymous and confidential survey, which was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, a nationally respected survey and research organization. The report on the survey is preliminary, offering an immediate look into some key findings. It is not yet possible to draw conclusions about the extent to which these results reflect the incidence of these events across the University population as a whole. NORC will further analyze the data and produce a full report.

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The preliminary report addresses issues related to sexual assault, intimate partner violence and sexual harassment. Preliminary results indicate that a number of UChicago students have experienced some form of sexual misconduct, with the highest proportions among undergraduate women. In all, 4,116 students responded to the survey. The total response rate was 28 percent, and undergraduate students had the highest response rate at 36 percent.

Many U.S. institutions are in the process of conducting similar surveys, and are in the early stages of the analysis and discussion of the resulting data. In a letter to campus, Provost Eric D. Isaacs said UChicago leaders are committed to using the survey findings to improve sexual misconduct prevention, education and awareness programs, and to provide the best resources for our students.

“In all circumstances, sexual misconduct is unacceptable,” Isaacs wrote. “We believe it is important to release a preliminary report now, even though the full analysis is not yet complete, both to inform our own work and to advance the ongoing national discussion about preventing sexual misconduct on college campuses.”

While NORC proceeds with its analysis of the full data, the preliminary report will help inform new actions as well as the University’s ongoing efforts on these issues. The new steps include:

  • Formation of a working group this summer to begin evaluating the University’s current resources and response programs. This group will evaluate the full campus climate report once it is released by NORC and will engage with students, faculty and staff in the Autumn Quarter.
  • Enhancement of activities, programs and efforts currently in development. These include broadening the availability of sexual misconduct training to all campus community members and new student orientation activities, developed with student input, focused on education and prevention.
  • A series of campus-wide dialogues, involving students, faculty and staff, is planned to coincide with the release of the full report, both to discuss the data and to solicit input from the campus community on these important issues.

“Understanding these preliminary results will be essential as we take necessary steps—as a community—to address these issues and develop appropriate programs and resources to support our students,” said Karen Warren Coleman, vice president for Campus Life and Student Services.

The data from UChicago will contribute to a local and national discussion about improving campus climates regarding sexual misconduct. In April 2014, a report by the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault estimated that about one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college. The report also encouraged universities to conduct campus climate surveys, and many universities in addition to UChicago are in the process of administering or analyzing results.

In addition to the campus climate survey, the University of Chicago is proceeding on multiple fronts to address sexual misconduct. Last spring, the University reviewed and consolidated two existing policies into a single Unlawful Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy, created a new University-wide student disciplinary committee, and appointed a new Associate Dean of Students in the University for Disciplinary Affairs. In early 2015, the Provost appointed a committee of faculty, staff and students to review and recommend revisions to the Unlawful Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Other initiatives in recent years include enhancing the Sexual Assault Dean-on-Call program, the Bias Response Team and RSVP (Resources for Sexual Violence Prevention). UChicago students have been active on these issues as well, with initiatives including the “It’s On UChicago” campaign and the recent Sexual Assault Awareness Week.

The preliminary report can be viewed here.

For more information on the climate survey project, please visit http://csl.uchicago.edu/get-involved/climate-survey-project