U-M to be part of AAU sexual assault climate survey


The University of Michigan is among more than two dozen U.S. higher education institutions that will participate in the Association of American Universities’ national sexual assault climate survey this spring.

The participating schools — 27 public and private research universities along with non-AAU participant Dartmouth College — total more than 800,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. The survey is expected to be among the largest ever on sexual assault.

AAU and the participating institutions have contracted with Westat, one of the nation’s most respected research companies, to conduct and analyze the results of the survey.

 “Our primary purpose in conducting this survey is to help our institutions gain a better understanding of this complex problem on their own campuses as well as nationally,” said AAU President Hunter Rawlings.

“Our first priority, and theirs, is to ensure that students not only are safe but feel safe. Universities will be using their data to inform their own policies and practices regarding sexual assault.

“We also hope the survey will help policymakers gain a better understanding of the problem, and that it will make a significant contribution to the growing body of research on sexual assault.”

U-M also is conducting its own survey of 3,000 scientifically selected undergraduate and graduate students on the Ann Arbor campus to gauge the campus climate regarding sexual misconduct among students.

“I am committed to providing the safest possible environment for all students at the University of Michigan and I am writing to ask for your help in preventing and addressing sexual misconduct,” President Mark Schlissel said in a Jan. 12 email to students announcing the survey.

Nearly all of the AAU universities not participating in the survey are either carrying out their own surveys or participating in state university system surveys.

A team of experts from universities and Westat is developing the survey, based on an instrument developed by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.

The survey will document the frequency and characteristics of campus sexual assault and sexual harassment, and assess campus climate in a way that allows for comparability of data across institutions and that protects the confidentiality of respondents.

The survey will be offered to all undergraduate, graduate and professional students beginning in April. Westat and participating universities will implement a number of communications strategies and incentives to maximize participation.

The same survey will be used at all participating universities except for five questions that will mention campus-specific programs to assess students’ familiarity with campus resources, support services, and reporting mechanisms.

AAU will publicly report aggregate results from across the participating AAU campuses. Westat will provide each institution with its own data, and each will decide whether and how to disseminate those results.

The survey participants are: Brown University, California Institute of Technology, Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Iowa State University, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University, Purdue University, Texas A&M University, The University of Arizona, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Florida, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, University of Missouri-Columbia, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Oregon,  University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, University of Southern California, The University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia, The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Washington University in St. Louis, and Yale University.


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