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Washburn University Presents Results of Climate Safety Survey

Washburn University Presents Results of Climate Safety Survey

“The entire campus community is engaged and works hard to provide an academic environment where students feel safe and empowered,” said Dr. Pamela Foster, equal opportunity director and Title IX coordinator. “However we know that sexual assault is under-reported and we want to continue to work to continue to reduce or even eliminate sexual harassment and/or sexual violence on campus.”

Foster plans to present the results at a special Gender Brown Bag forum this Wednesday, February 15 at noon. The forum is open to the entire campus community.

The survey was conducted during the 2015-2016 academic year and is based on the survey instrument developed by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. In addition, the survey used questions requested by the U. S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The purpose of the survey was to measure the campus climate related to sexual assault and to assist in identifying intervention strategies including training and policy development.

Washburn sent the survey to a random sample of 1,800 Washburn University student out of a total student population at the time of 5,877 individuals.

Foster noted that they received responses from 168 students giving a response rate of 9.3 percent. Even though the response rate did not allow the university to generalize the results to the entire campus community, Foster said, “We still think the results give us some valuable insight to make programmatic changes.”

Foster also noted that “plans are in place to distribute the survey with revisions next fall and along with the revisions, the survey will be marketed differently to improve the response rate.” Foster said, the survey conducted in the fall of 2017 will provide valuable information the university can use to evaluate programs that were initiated subsequent to the academic year 2015-2016 survey.”

Still, according to Foster, the survey provided some interesting findings including:

  • 91% of respondents indicated they felt safe on campus and 92% felt that faculty and administrators respect what students think, treat students fairly and are genuinely concerned about students’ welfare.

  • Approximately 74% either agreed or strongly agreed that if they or a friend were sexually assaulted they would know where to go to get help. However, only about 40% knew the Title IX Coordinator or how to contact her.

  • 10% of respondents indicated a personal experience with sexual violence. Of those, 83% of those incidents occurred off-campus. None of these respondents reported the incident through the University’s formal procedures.

  • There were significant differences between men and women’s response patterns to questions about leadership, policy, procedure, bystander attitudes and behavior statements. For example, men tended to feel safer on campus, while women tended to believe that sexual violence was more of a problem and that they needed to learn more about it and had to think more about sexual violence.

  • The survey demonstrated that training was effective in influencing positive attitudes toward the complaint process and the likelihood someone would report an incident to a campus authority.

“The survey indicated we have a need for further education and training,” Foster said.

The university has set an initial goal to provide training related to the prevention of sexual harassment and sexual violence for at least 75 percent of the campus community in the next year. Foster said, Washburn hopes to reach every single student with training and information about prevention.

“Even though the survey indicated that we are already a safe campus with very few sexual assaults, we believe that even one sexual assault is too many.  We are working to develop training and education to change the climate of the campus community to an environment where sexual assault is not tolerated,” she said.


     Ed Note -- The survey can be found at: http://washburn.edu/statements-disclosures/equal-opportunity/non-discrimination-policy-LINK/2015-2016%20Community%20Safety%20%20Climate%20Survey%20Report_020817.pdf

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