Colleges debate best model for surveys on sexual assault
- Universities and the U.S. Department of Education have developed climate surveys to assess institutional response and awareness of sexual assaults, but there is growing disagreement about their validity and how the data can be used.
- Campus officials say survey data should be used as guidance for public safety strategy adjustments, while lawmakers say results should be publicly available to help families in college selection.
- Issues like the terminology, target audiences (sexual assault victims and perpetrators) and which surveys could be universally accepted by various publics are at the core of differences in if and how surveys will be used.
The Department of Education is likely to have the last and strongest word on the issue of sexual assault climate at colleges and universities. Depending on the outcome of the fall presidential election, the topic figures to loom large over higher education.
Campuses will be compelled to do or to promote more action on sexual assault, which could have impact on recruitment, student reaction and federal funding — if state lawmakers don't also press the issue for local impact.
- Inside Higher Ed Creating the right climate survey