University to survey campus climate regarding sexual misconduct


This week the university will launch a survey of students on the Ann Arbor campus to gauge the campus climate regarding sexual misconduct among students.

A scientific sample of 3,000 undergraduates and graduate students is being invited to complete the online survey. President Mark Schlissel sent an email message to all students Monday announcing the effort.

“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,” Schlissel says in the email.

“An important step for our university is to assess the campus climate and culture in relation to sexual misconduct, and we have surveys planned for this part of the effort.”

The U-M survey will be completely confidential and voluntary. The university has contracted with the Ann Arbor firm of Survey Sciences Group to administer the survey and no one at the university will have any identifiable information from participants.

Survey questions were informed by previous surveys, federal government recommendations, U-M sexual misconduct experts and survey research experts from the university’s Survey Research Center.

As a token of appreciation, participating students will receive a small payment or the option of donating the payment to the United Way. This approach follows best practices among survey research and is designed to get the best possible participation in the survey.

Later this spring the university also will participate in an all-student survey regarding sexual misconduct administered by the Association of American Universities.

“Learning about the experiences of students and the degree to which students feel safe and respected will help us to better understand how we can more effectively address and prevent sexual misconduct,” the president says.

“U-M will make the findings from the survey public to promote transparency and allow others to learn from our data.”



  1. Sudipa Topdar
    on January 13, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    UM should not only ensure that all students are safe in their dorms, classrooms and anywhere on campus from sexual assault and misconduct, but also ensure that their employees (non-academic) staff have a clear record as far as a history of sexual assault is concerned. Even if an employee has had a sexual assault case lodged against them (which never went for trial) they should not be given employment. Often victims lodge a complaint but cannot pursue a legal case for a variety of reasons. There should be a mandatory background check for all employees (faculty and non-academic staff) for sexual misconduct before they are employed. Issues of sexual assault and/or misconduct should be strictly dealt with. Committed feminist scholars and lawyers should be on board such a sexual assault grievance committee. Complete privacy should be provided to the victim/survivor. Remember that we have a multicultural student population and in many cultures it is the raped woman (or man) who is ostracised. The University should be sensitive to these cultural baggages that may loom large over a complainant’s mind. Sexual assault is a heinous crime, the psychological damage of which far outweighs the physical harm. We, as an institution, should be sensitive towards this. More often than not, the reaction of the law enforcement agencies and society is that the victim is lying. We must stop doing that. At the end of the day a victim who speaks up is doing something extremely courageous. The Univ’s approach should be one of complete sympathy (and not suspicion) towards the complainant and bring in strict punishment towards the perpetrator. Like Berkeley, we must also enforce the “Yes is Yes” policy.

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