Require All Students at SUNY and CUNY Schools to Take the Sexual Assault Survey
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Require all SUNY and CUNY students and faculty to take the campus climate survey to aid in sexual assault research and awareness.
Around 1 in 5 college women are sexually assaulted, but more than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the incident. As a result, 91% of colleges in 2014 reported zero incidences of rape. It is clear that there is a lack of reporting and protocol regarding sexual assault cases in many colleges and universities, in part due to treating instances of sexual assault as a PR problem, rather than a civil rights and public safety issue. In 2015 New York State passed Senate Bill S5965, which requires all colleges and universities in the State of New York create uniform prevention and response policies and procedures related to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. This includes a mandated campus climate survey, to be conducted annually and anonymously.
Prior to this act, some schools within the SUNY and CUNY system were already administering campus climate surveys, but there was limited participation in every school that attempted the survey. Even though the measures taken by New York State to ensure that all schools conduct these surveys are impressive, without participation the benefits are limited. Thus, we are asking the schools within the CUNY and SUNY systems to require their students to partake in the campus climate survey. In addition to ensuring better and more effective data collection, the surveys are educational and would also aid in spreading awareness of the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. In order to obtain the most accurate research and spread awareness, all students and faculty at SUNY and CUNY colleges and universities should be required to take campus climate surveys.
Even though the survey grants students an opportunity to report sexual assault anonymously and share how effective they believe the school is at preventing sexual assault, only a small percentage of students and faculty responded in prior surveys within the SUNY and CUNY systems. In the 2014-2015 school year, of the students and faculty that could take the survey only 24.3% participated at the College of Staten Island, 24% participated at SUNY Plattsburgh, 25% participated at The College at Brockport (SUNY), and just 11% participated at Binghamton University. In each of these schools, the pool is not large enough to gain an accurate understanding of what is happening on each college campus and how the school can address it. Many colleges place an emphasis on safety, and more student and faculty participation in the surveys would help give the school a better understanding of what measures the school can take in order to create a safer learning environment.
The surveys are critical to improving our understanding of sexual assault on campuses as well as developing better ways to combat the problem, but they can also serve as educational devices in spreading awareness of the issue. Rutgers conducted a pilot study of the campus climate survey model, a study that was included in a 2015 White House fact sheet, “Resource Guide and Recent Efforts to Combat Sexual Violence on College and University Campuses.” In the Executive Summary, it was explained that the survey was not simply a way of collecting information, but an educational experience as well. Rutgers writes that “The survey helped increase awareness of the issue...and motivated others to consider taking action on sexual violence.”
Signing this petition means that you want to ensure that we do as much as we possibly can to gather data on sexual assault on campuses, for it is only with that knowledge that this horrific issue can be properly addressed. It means that you want to require all SUNY and CUNY students to participate in the survey, because it will be educational as well as beneficial to them and their fellow students in the long run. It is imperative to collect this data because only then can colleges begin to address and acknowledge what is actually happening.
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