Sexual Assault Awareness Climate Survey

Introduction

This document summarizes main findings from the Sexual Assault Awareness Climate Survey conducted at The Sage Colleges during the month of April 2019. The survey was administered from March 13, 2019 to April 26, 2019. The last Survey was administered during April of 2017. The template provided by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault was utilized. The survey was conducted in order to identify the problem, and the extent, of sexual violence on our campuses.

Demographics

This survey was administered to all current Sage students. There were 304 total respondents to the survey (13% response rate), an increase from 224 total respondents (9% response rate) in 2017. Approximately 40% of the respondents were undergraduate Russell Sage College students (RSC) students, 27% undergraduate Sage College of Albany (SCA) students, 29% Sage Graduate students (SGS), 3% School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) students, and 1% reported other. A majority of respondents identified as female 89%, white 82%, and heterosexual 78%.

Campus Cohesiveness/Sense of Community

Nearly 85% of students agree that faculty are genuinely concerned about their welfare, and 71% feel the same about administrators. 82% of students feel that faculty, staff, and administrators respect what they think, and 77% feel that faculty, staff and administrators treat students fairly. Overall, nearly 79% of students reported feeling happy at Sage. These findings have positive implications because increased trust in college officials are the building blocks towards increased reporting of sexual misconduct on campus.

General Campus Safety & Response to Sexual Assault

About 78% of students reported feeling safe on campus overall, but 54% of students thought the college should do more to protect students from harm, which means that there is room for improvement.

Nearly 57% of students would feel comfortable reporting a sexual assault to the Title IX Coordinator, up from 43% of students in 2017. Reporting of sexual assault on campus is extremely low among victims nationwide, thus having an increase of 14% was encouraging.

Figures revealed an increase in student confidence from 2017 that the college would take student safety seriously. At Sage, 83% of students thought the college would take a student’s sexual assault report seriously. 77% of students thought that the college would make sure that the Title IX Coordinator would be notified right away about an incident of sexual assault. 81% of students thought the college would keep the knowledge of the report to those who need to know in order for the college to respond properly. Up from 76% in 2017, 82% of students thought the college would take steps to protect the safety of the person making a report. Also up from 75% in 2017, 82% believe that the college would support the person making the report. The increase in confidence from 2017 to 2019 was a positive sign, and attributable to the increase in training and outreach by the Title IX Office.

Student Knowledge of Training/Policies/Procedures/Resources

Sage is diligent about adhering to the training requirements as outlined by federal and New York State guidelines under Title IX and New York’s “Enough is Enough” Law. All first year undergraduate students receive training in the summer through an online module and in person training during orientation in August. And throughout the school year, Sage delivers trainings about what is defined as sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, students’ bill of rights, how to report an incident, confidential resources, and procedures for investigating. Sage also delivers trainings on bystander intervention and escalation workshops.  When students were asked how useful they thought these trainings were, 99% reported they were useful. When asked if they thought that students would support a victim making a sexual assault report to a campus authority, 80% said it was likely. Since one of the primary goals of the trainings and workshops is to encourage the campus community to be aware, help, and support each other, these were promising numbers. Sage will continue to insert additional trainings and workshops into more classrooms and programs so that we can reach more students.

Victimization

This section is an essential piece of the survey given our lack of knowledge surrounding victimization rates given the fact that reporting rates at The Sage Colleges have been historically low. We are hoping that with increased education and training, more students will feel comfortable coming forward and reporting.

Overall, 5.6% of students reported being sexual assaulted this past year compared to 8.8% in 2017. Of course, most sexual assaults are never reported, so we have to take this reality into account. Over a four-year college career, this averages out to be about 22.4%, which is under the national average.

According to the survey, 11% of the unwanted behavior involved strangers, therefore 89% of the unwanted behavior involved someone the person knew, (non-stranger), which coincides with national trends regarding perpetrator relationships with victims.

When asked if the person was a student at your college, 68% of total students said no.  When asked if the person was affiliated with the college as an employee, staff, or faculty member, 84% said no. The survey revealed that 100% of the perpetrators were male.

Only 21% of victimized students surveyed used formal procedures to report the incident, which was the same number in 2017. Unfortunately, this is similar nationwide, as “campus sexual assault… is chronically underreported: only 2% of incapacitated sexual assault survivors, and 13% of forcible rape survivors, report the crime to campus or local law enforcement.” Krebs et al. The Campus sexual assault (CSA) study.

Moving Forward…

Sage is committed to be innovative, to engage in complex conversations, and ultimately, to change campus culture and work toward a violence-free community. In the last few years at Sage, particularly in the last three years, we have continued to focus on the issue of sexual misconduct in numerous ways, from providing support to our students to developing strong policies and implementing comprehensive education programs. These include:

  • Increasing training of students about Title IX, NYS’s “Enough is Enough” Law, Sage’s reporting procedures, dating violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, stalking, consent, bystander intervention among other related topics;
  • Increasing training of college employees (including student employees) regarding reporting obligations;
  • Increasing training of faculty and staff members regarding conflict management with students;
  • Increasing training of faculty and staff members regarding additional equity protections related to Discrimination and Harassment.

The Title IX Coordinator has encouraged students to assemble a sexual assault awareness group in the fall. One of the group’s functions would be to meet and discuss ideas on how to improve safety and sexual assault awareness on campus. The students can address these ideas to the employee-run Sage SART (Sexual Assault Awareness Response Team) so that Sage can improve its systems with student-driven input and participation.

Sage will continue its proactive efforts in educating our community about sexual violence and reducing its occurrence, creating the safest environment possible for its students to learn and grow.