WMU unveils its results from national campus climate survey

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News

Photo of students walking.KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The overwhelming majority of Western Michigan University students feels safe and supported by faculty and administrators when it comes to addressing sexual violence, according to the results of a national survey WMU participated in last spring.

The University was one of 34 public and private colleges and universities to take part last April in the Education Advisory Board—EAB—Campus Climate Survey, an anonymous online instrument designed to assess students' perceptions, behaviors, attitudes and experiences with regards to sexual violence during the academic year.  About 2,600 individuals—12 percent of WMU's student population—participated in the overall survey that drew responses from just over 36,000 students at all 34 schools. Schools in the survey ranged in size from 1,000 to 20,000-plus students.

The EAB survey is similar to national surveys by the American Association of Universities widely reported over the past three years. The anonymous survey was designed to allow students to provide their input on such items as the overall perception of the sexual violence climate on campus, incidence of sexual violence on campus, student knowledge of reporting procedures and resources available to those who need assistance, reasons for not reporting, and the prevalence of prevention training.

"This is tremendously valuable information for us to work with and share with our students," says Dr. Diane Anderson, vice president for student affairs. "It allows us to tailor our messages about safety and awareness in a way that will be most effective in preventing our students from being in harm's way. It also helps us provide the effective support, resources and reporting structures they need to report incidents."

Findings

Among major findings about WMU from the newly compiled information:

  • A full 80 percent of WMU respondents reported feeling safe on campus, while 85 percent felt faculty were genuinely concerned about their welfare and 76 percent felt the same about campus administrators.
  • Nearly one in three women students arrives on campus having experienced at least one incident of unwanted sexual contact in their pre-college years.
  • While three out of four survey takers who were first-year students recalled receiving sexual violence prevention training, the number receiving or recalling such training decreased for students in their later years as students.
  • Of those surveyed, 63 percent knew where to go for help if they or a friend experienced sexual violence, and 61 percent knew the range of confidential services available to them when they report an incident of sexual violence.
  • One in 10 students surveyed reported having been the victim of sexual misconduct at least once since the beginning of the academic year in which the survey was done; Those incidents ranged from being fondled or kissed against their will to unwanted sexual penetration.
  • For those who experienced such unwanted contact, the perpetrator was an acquaintance, peer or friend in three out of four incidents. The perpetrators were identified as current or former romantic partners in 21 percent of the cases. More than two thirds of the incidents occurred off campus.
  • Three out of four survey takers reported confidence that when someone reports an incident, the University takes it seriously and the same number felt the University would use formal procedures to fairly address such a report.

Next steps

Moving forward, the University will continue its current efforts to inform, train and reinforce information students receive about resources and ways to report incidents, according to Felicia Crawford, WMU's director of Title IX compliance.

"As we look at this data, its' clear we need to continue our efforts to make sure every student knows what constitutes sexual misconduct as well as how and where to to report an incident," Crawford says. "The survey data tells us too many incidents go unreported. Success for us will mean seeing our reporting numbers increase as students become more aware of their resources and more comfortable with the idea of filing a report."

A new web page has also been dedicated to publishing annual data on sexual misconduct reports and the outcomes, at the University level, of those reports. That data can be found on WMU's Sexual Misconduct Policy website wmich.edu/sexualmisconduct/data. Also on the site are additional results from the EAB Survey.

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