Amid e-mails regarding free pizza and intramurals, multiple e-mails were sent out publicizing a Campus Climate Survey. The survey began Jan. 15 and was sent to all students enrolled at EMU as well as faculty and staff. While the title seems broad, the survey has specific goals to collect information regarding the climate around “sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating violence and stalking,” as stated by Scott Barge in an e-mail to all undergraduates, faculty and staff.
The survey is not limited to EMU. The Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS) created the survey to be used by universities to create safer campuses. The survey’s purpose is to “inform and improve support, policies and practices,” said Todd Van Patter, Assistant Director of Institutional Research.
While the survey is offered to any campus interested in administering it, EMU will be looking specifically at their own survey, using the information to make changes or improvements where they are needed. The EMU Board originally proposed the idea, turning to Institutional Research to promote and initiate the survey campus-wide. Through the process, Institutional Research will use the findings of the survey to support efforts of the Title IX team and Counseling Center. Both organizations on campus are currently utilizing the recent $300,000 grant from the Department of Justice from the Office on Violence Against Women.
Currently, the student participation is below the expected amount of involvement. As of Monday, Jan. 29, only 9 percent of the student body had participated in the survey. In comparison, 40 percent of the staff and faculty have taken the survey, which is higher than predicted. Administrators of the survey are hopeful for a greater turnout in student participation in an issue that many students on campus are active and passionate about. “If we can get 50, 60 or 70 percent [of the student body] … that gives us such a good picture,” Van Patter said. The teams leading the survey hope to get good representation from all groups on campus so the information can be effective in creating a better campus environment. The survey is a “way to actually impact your campus, it’s a way to … help other people, help this campus be safe,” Van Patter said.
Soon after the survey’s close, Institutional Research will receive the final report and begin moving forward with the information and processing. The survey will be used in collaboration with organizations such as the Title IX team but will not be used to report incidents or information. “This won’t constitute a report of any kind … of legal action,” Van Patter said. Though the survey deals with sensitive topics, it will strictly be used as a platform to hear anonymously from the campus and to further improve EMU’s climate around topics of sexual assault or violence.
The survey can be found in student and faculty e-mails. Multiple e-mails have been sent and can be found by searching “Campus Climate Survey.” The survey will remain open until Feb. 27. Van Patter emphasized the necessity of student participation in making the survey effective. “The more people that take it … the more useful it will be to us.” Despite the relatively low student participation, those aware of it are very supportive. Junior Yoel Bobadilla is pleased with the campus’s efforts to make sure the campus is in “tip-top shape” and making sure everyone is “safe and comfortable.”