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Saint Mary’s launches sexual assault climate survey

| Thursday, January 14, 2016

Saint Mary’s students Wednesday morning received a personalized email about participating in the first sexual assault campus climate survey.

According to the email, the College is collaborating with the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS) to administer the HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey.

According to Director of Institutional Research Daniel Flowers, the climate survey will remain open for students to complete through Feb. 3. Students will receive reminder emails requesting their participation throughout the three-week window.

The survey will be open to both undergraduate and graduate students, Flowers said.

“The issue of sexual assault impacts all of our students and it is important that we collect feedback from all of our students,” he said.

In the email sent to students, College President Carol Ann Mooney said she hopes students will take the twenty-minute survey whether or not they have experienced unwanted sexual contact or sexual assault.

The survey is entirely anonymous, Flowers said.

“While we hope that all students choose to participate in this important survey, participation is entirely voluntary and it is important to both Saint Mary’s and HEDS that student anonymity is protected,” he said. “The College is administering the survey through HEDS and before data is returned to Saint Mary’s, HEDS will remove any identifying information students may provide in comments.”

Mooney acknowledged in her email that the survey may be emotionally difficult for students and provided a link to local and national resources for students affected by sexual assault.

Flowers said it is made clear to students that the results of this survey will not be used to investigate any specific individuals or incidents.

He said the survey will allow the College to better understand not only the climate on sexual assault and unwanted sexual contact, but also how students perceive the College’s official reporting process and responses.

The survey results will also help the College understand the frequency and nature of sexual assaults and unwanted sexual contact including general locations of assaults, relations of any of the victims to the persons indicated to have committed the assaults and whether bystanders tried to intervene.

Additionally, Flowers said survey questions will ask whether victims reported the assaults and the level of satisfaction with the institution’s response to a report if one was made. The survey will also collect information from students about their own roles as bystanders and the degree to which they intervened, Flowers said.

The results of the survey, Mooney said, will be used to inform and improve support, policies and practices at Saint Mary’s.

Flowers said the survey results will first be shared with the Presidential Task Force on Sexual Assault when available later this spring. Results will be available to the College community after the Task Force has had a chance to review the results.

Additionally, the full set of comparison data from other participating institutions is available to the College likely this summer or early fall 2016.

HEDS and its member institutions — a consortium of mostly private, non-profit colleges and universities from across the country — designed the survey, Flowers said.

“In addition to receiving feedback from our own students, by participating in the consortium, we’ll also have aggregate level comparison results from other participating HEDS institutions to which we can compare our results,” he said.

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About Haleigh Ehmsen

A senior at Saint Mary's, Haleigh is majoring in Communication Studies and English Literature & Writing. She serves as the Saint Mary's editor and enjoys coffee, guacamole and good books.

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