PARC asks students to fill out sexual and relationship violence survey

PARC asks students to fill out sexual and relationship violence survey

March 8, 2019

Brandeis students opened their email accounts to find a campus climate survey on sexual and relationship violence on Tuesday morning. Sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Division of Student Affairs, the survey aims to gather students’ responses to sexual violence in the Brandeis community.

The survey is similar to a 2015 survey with a few minor changes, according to Director of the Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center Sarah Berg. All survey responses are anonymous, Berg emphasized, and she hopes students will respond to the survey. The survey is incentivized—all students who fill it out will receive $5 towards an Amazon gift card or can choose to donate their $5 one of three charities dealing with sexual violence and/or domestic violence.   

“I think the folks we really want to hear from the most will probably have the hardest time taking it. So we’re trying to do our best to ask the questions we need to know the answers to but not cause harm,” Berg said.

Berg has also distributed short pamphlets on the survey, detailing a content note that says, “the questions asked in the survey are personal and very detailed, so please take care of yourself when participating.”

The earlier 2015 survey examined racial harassment, sexual assault and a sense of community experience, according to a 2015 Hoot article. The survey found that 22 percent of women, five percent of men and 35 percent of students who identify as transgender or other indicated that they had been sexually assaulted. The survey also found that six percent of women and one percent of men in the undergraduate population said they had been raped, according to the Hoot article.

In a later analysis of the survey broken down by race, the survey found that at the graduate and undergraduate level, Black, Latino and other minority students did not feel that the administration would handle a sexual assault case well. Asian American students had the highest confidence in the administration to handle these situations well and fairly, according to another earlier Hoot article.

Berg hopes that students will have more confidence in the administration. “I’d hope to see some improvement in how the students feel the administration is at least trying around this issue, [and] more people feeling that they are able to tell their stories and not be blamed,” said Berg in an interview with The Brandeis Hoot.

Berg hoped that bystander training, which her office focuses on, can be further improved. Berg hopes to have students attend bystander education at least once a year all four years they attend Brandeis, as bystander training is most effective when repeated, she said.

Last semester, PARC had 2,584 students participate in 90-minute to two-hour bystander trainings—almost half of the undergraduate student body.

The 2015 survey was part of a larger initiative by the U.S. department of education under the Obama administration to improve university handling of sexual assault cases, according to an earlier Hoot article. Though this survey is no longer strongly encouraged by the current administration, it is still an important way to gather information about sexual violence at Brandeis, Berg said.

Both Berg and Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Mark Brimhall-Vargas hope that the survey results will be released to the Brandeis community at least in part, before the end of this academic year.

The data collected by the survey will be stored and analyzed by the Office of Planning and Institutional Research (OPIR). Berg, Vargas and Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Dr. Kim Godsoe will analyze the data. Provost Lisa Lynch, along with the Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Karen Muncaster will review and share the findings with the Brandeis community, according to an email distributing the survey.The five dollars earned by taking the survey can be donated to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, or the Violence Recovery Program at Fenway Health.

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