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Student Campus Climate Survey Report

October 27, 2015

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Sexual violence is one of the greatest social justice and public health issues of our time, and it is our obligation as an institution of higher education -- and as individual community members -- to apply our significant intellectual resources to create a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy to eradicate sexual violence from our community, and to create a safe and supportive environment for all.

We are aware that the information reported below may be difficult for some community members to read, particularly those who have experienced violence; please know there are resources available to you.

Last April, under the auspices of the university-wide Committee for the Prevention of Sexual Violence, we took a major step in gathering data on our community's experience with this issue through a comprehensive climate survey of undergraduate, graduate and professional students.

Today we are releasing the survey results to the entire university community given the importance of the issue, and with the understanding that we all have a role in ensuring that our fellow community members feel safe, secure and respected.

As you are aware, many universities across the country have launched similar surveys as recommended by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The Association of American Universities (AAU) also recently released aggregate results of a campus climate survey that they undertook in partnership with 27 universities.

Emory decided to conduct its own independent survey with tailored questions that would provide data specific to our community. The Emory survey was designed to capture students' experiences and attitudes regarding aspects of sexual violence, from physical assault to stalking and harassment. The survey also collected student perceptions; assessed knowledge and use of Emory's sexual assault prevention, advocacy and response programs; and gauged familiarity with the university's sexual misconduct policy and process. It's important to note that direct comparisons cannot necessarily be made with survey results reported by other schools due to the specificity of our survey to the Emory community.

Out of 13,952 students contacted, 2,615 students (18.7 percent) answered at least one question on the survey.

A summary report of the climate survey outlines several key findings:

  • Across all student groups, respondents who experienced sexual violence reported a range of experiences, including sexual harassment, stalking, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and rape.
  • 10.7 percent of all students responding to the survey reported that they experienced attempted or completed incidents of sexual assault or rape. Among these students, 6.6 percent used Emory's formal procedures to report the incident.
  • More than 70 percent of undergraduate respondents who experienced completed sexual assault or rape reported that the violence co-occurred with alcohol/drug use. While alcohol or drug use does not cause, excuse or explain sexual assault, prevention programming must acknowledge such co-occurrence and educate on alcohol/drug abuse as a tool of assault, similar to coercion, intimidation, and threats of force.
  • More than 50 percent of respondents are unfamiliar with Emory's Equal Opportunity and Harassment policy, Title IX Coordinators, or the Respect program. Approximately 50 percent do not know where to learn more about these resources.

Although these results are consistent with national trends, they are disturbing and unacceptable. Even one case of harassment, stalking, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, or rape is not to be tolerated within our community. The findings also highlight an ongoing need to ensure awareness of the resources that are available. It also is disappointing that despite multiple resources and support, a majority of respondents are not aware of these resources.

We find it extremely encouraging that a majority of respondents believe they would intervene to prevent incidents of sexual assault. Similarly, a majority believe that the university would take a report of sexual assault seriously.

The full summary report, along with the survey questionnaire, campus resources related to preventing sexual violence, and other materials, are posted on the Office of the Provost's website. We encourage you to review these materials and share your comments and questions.

Our belief, as individuals and as a community, is that sexual violence is preventable. We have made much progress in our goal to reduce incidents of sexual violence in our community, but there is more work to do.

A town hall to discuss the student climate survey will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 28 in the Cox Ballroom. We thank the Student Government Association and the University Senate for cosponsoring this public conversation regarding how we are working to create a safe community. Members of the Committee for the Prevention of Sexual Violence will be present to help facilitate the discussion. They also plan to continue meeting with student, staff and faculty groups to discuss the survey findings and to develop strategies to implement recommendations.

The results from a faculty and staff climate survey are expected to be available this spring and will further inform our strategies and help us make decisions about resources and programming. The student climate survey reinforces the need for an integrated, campus-wide approach that addresses common needs among students, faculty and staff.

We thank the students who responded to the survey and shared their experiences and opinions, and we also thank the committee members for their work in developing and implementing the survey. As we continue our current efforts -- and develop new approaches -- we welcome the involvement of all members of our Emory community in becoming active participants to create an environment of mutual respect and concern in which all can thrive.

Sincerely,

Ajay Nair
Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life

Claire E. Sterk
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Campus Report | 2015