By Christopher Woodside
It has been a year and a half since The Catholic University of America was featured on a list of institutions being investigated by the Department of Education for open Title IX sexual violence investigations. Since this time, the University has undertaken and organized countless initiatives and events from “Can I Kiss You?” to joining the “It’s On Us” campaign launched by Vice President Joe Biden and the Obama Administration. Recently, the University has launched yet another tool to improve how officials prevent and respond to sexual assault, yet students fail to participate.
Earlier this semester, the University launched the “Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey.” The survey has been used by colleges across the country and was developed by the Higher Education Data Sharing consortium (HEDS) and is being organized at Catholic University by Title IX coordinator Frank Vinik.
“It [the survey] will tell us the prevalence of sexual assault on campus,” said Vinik when discussing how he hopes the University will be able to use the survey to improve policy and better understand the issue of sexual assault on campus. “[The survey] will also tell us if people have confidence in the University in how we handle sexual assault.”
While the University hopes to use the survey to achieve these goals, the response rate on the survey is not reaching the level that the University expected it would.
According to Vinik, other schools that have used this survey have seen triple the response rate than what the response rate at Catholic University has been so far. While Vinik recognizes that some of the questions on this survey may make students uncomfortable answering, he stressed the importance that students do complete the survey as a lower response rate will make the University less confident that the results represent the student body’s views as a whole.
“It’s an opportunity for them [the students] to speak out on a very important issue,” said Vinik. “The more students that do that, the more we can show this is an issue the University cares about.”
As the University is still attempting to raise the response rate for the survey, many students have already completed it and agreed that it was an important survey for the University to conduct.
One student, who wished to remain anonymous because of the anonymity of the survey did take the time to complete the survey, and stressed the importance of other students doing the same so that the University is better able to address this issue then they have in the past.
The University has already taken steps to encourage students to complete the survey. Students who complete the survey will now be entered into a drawing to win a $20 gift cards to either Starbucks or Barnes and Noble. Students who have completed the survey earlier will not be at a disadvantage as they will be receiving information in early December about how to enter the drawing, according to Vinik.
Vinik also stressed that students be aware that this new incentive does mean that it will reveal whether or not a student completed the survey, but that the context of the survey and the answers will still be completely anonymous.
In addition to the gift card drawing, students will now also have access to the survey for an extended period of time. Originally, the survey was scheduled to close at the end of November, but the University has pushed the window back to December 7th, giving students an additional week to complete the survey.