Washington University again to join nationwide survey on sexual assault and misconduct

Association of American Universities to administer survey beginning March 5

Washington University in St. Louis will once again participate in a comprehensive survey about sexual assault on college campuses, to be conducted by the Association of American Universities (AAU) this spring.

The Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct is expected to be the largest of its kind, collecting data from students at 33 participating universities. The study is a follow-up to the 2015 AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct, which surveyed more than 150,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students across 27 universities, including Washington University.

Brookings Hall
Brookings Hall

“As we continue our important work to understand the problems of sexual assault and misconduct on our campus, the AAU survey provides invaluable insight into the challenges we are facing,” said Provost Holden Thorp. “These are difficult issues and we are committed to dealing with them head on, including by seeking the truth about what is happening in our community, even though it may be difficult to hear. Getting feedback directly from our students is the best way for us to gain insight and work toward meaningful solutions.”

“Our primary goal is student safety,” AAU President Mary Sue Coleman said when announcing the survey last fall. “AAU universities are committed to protecting students and we believe this survey will contribute to the growing body of research on this topic to better inform campus policies and procedures.”

The anonymous survey, which will open to students on March 5, was developed by a team of university experts and the research company Westat. It will aim to capture characteristics and frequency of campus sexual assault and misconduct, and to assess campus climate in a manner that further protects student confidentiality and allows for data sharing across universities. AAU will publicly release aggregate results from across the participating universities and Westat will provide each institution with its own data, allowing each to decide how best to share their results. Washington University will make its results available to the university community.

The survey is a key component in Washington University’s ongoing efforts to address sexual assault and misconduct, and to improve processes and add resources to support members of the university community who experience these incidents. In the past year the university has reaffirmed its commitment to working on these issues, laying out a comprehensive plan for implementing a number of recommendations, including several suggested directly by students.

“These are difficult but extremely important topics, and we want our entire community to know that we take these matters very seriously,” said Lori S. White, vice chancellor for student affairs. “When the survey opens, I hope our students will strongly consider participating and sharing their honest feedback. I know this is not easy, but this input will help us to make our community safer and more supportive for everyone.”

The survey will be open to Washington University students until April 3. Details on how to participate will be shared directly with students.

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