621 Respond to Assault Survey

Margot McCrillis ’19, Staff Writer

According to the released responses of the Sexual Assault Climate Survey, which was sent to all students spring 2015, 11.4 percent of the more than 600 respondents reported that they had been assaulted at Dickinson.

The results, which were released April 27 in the Stern Great Room to over 40 students, faculty and staff, are from only a portion of the questions from the survey, while the longer written responses are still being evaluated. 38.2 percent of the student body – 621 students – responded to the survey when it was sent out in spring 2015.

The majority of the students who reported having been assaulted experienced the assault during their first two years of college. Most assaults occurred in residential buildings and were perpetrated by students known to the respondents and involved the use of alcohol by one or more parties. The most commonly reported types of assault were unwanted touch, unwanted vaginal sex and unwanted oral sex. The use of force or threat to use force was indicated in the majority of incidents. Reasons for not officially reporting assault included fear of retribution, suspicion of the investigation process after reporting as effective and other reasons.

Title IX Director Donna Greco has led the survey analysis since she arrived last fall. Otherwise, the Survey Committee consisted of 11 staff, faculty and students. Staff members are Greco; Prevention, Advocacy, Education and Care (PEAC) Director Kelly Wilt; Women’s and Gender Resource Center Director Donna Bickford; Executive Director of the Wellness Center Alecia Sundsmo; Director of Institutional Research Jason Rivera and Senior Research Analyst Korey Paul. Theater Professor Sherry Harper-McCombs acted as faculty representative. Emily Katz ’16, Nick Rajebian ’17, Sara Tyberg ’17 and Egmidio Medina ’18 were student representatives.

Rivera came to campus summer 2015, when he joined Wilt and Paul to begin data breakdown and prepare for Greco’s arrival fall 2015. Paul attended the annual Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS) conference last summer to discuss results with representatives from other schools and prepare to evaluate Dickinson’s data from the Climate Survey. The committee began meeting in the fall when Greco arrived to discuss and analyze the findings.

“I helped advise on interpreting the data as people began thinking about what this meant and how we could move forward,” said Rivera.  “At this point, I see my role as continuing to facilitate understanding of this data while plans are being made for how to address the results of the survey.”

Between the time of the surveys release in the spring and the presentation of the results on April 27, education initiatives may have already begun to affect issues addressed in the questionnaire.

“We have also discussed what effect some of the education measures that have been put in place since the administration of this survey may have had on the issues that came out in the survey,” says Harper-McCombs.

“We discussed how we can communicate and create reports that people will actually read,” says Paul. “We need to break down these barriers of mistrust and develop better ways to protect the men and women on campus. We will continue to find ways to do this and hope that open dialogues can be the first step in a positive direction.”

Discussion following the event included questions about student perception of the reporting process and demographics not included in this survey. Attendees voiced concerns about alcohol and campus culture, and how the administration would work to address these.

The conversation will continue in the fall, and Greco said, “Given sexual assault is underreported at Dickinson and nationally, climate surveys can help us better understand the extent and characteristics of sexual assault on our campus and how students feel about our system of response and prevention. We also recognize that the climate survey is just one tool and that it comes with both limitations and strengths. We invite students, faculty and staff to join us as we move forward in linking these findings to our next steps in sexual assault policy, prevention and response at Dickinson.”

Students who wish to participate in this dialogue are encouraged to contact Wilt ([email protected]), Greco ([email protected]) or Bickford ([email protected]).

More detailed findings of the survey are available on Dickinson Gateway, and there will be an open dialogue at Landis House at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 5.