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University surveys students on prevalence of sexual assault, misconduct on campus

Results will help Hopkins further refine understanding of campus climate and allow for comparisons to peers

Johns Hopkins University distributed the latest campus climate survey on sexual assault and misconduct to students over the weekend, part of the university's ongoing efforts to improve strategies for combatting sexual violence on campus and increase protections for survivors.

The anonymous survey, emailed to students Sunday, will provide insight into the prevalence of sexual violence on campus, the accessibility and visibility of resources and reporting practices, and how students perceive the efforts of the university to keep them safe.

"I think one of the things that's most important for survivors is the validation that this is an issue on campus that needs to be addressed," said Bella Radant, a senior who works with the Johns Hopkins Sexual Assault Resource Unit, a 24/7 resource run by students. She said one of the reasons this survey is so important is that it can include the voices of students who have experienced sexual violence or misconduct but have not reported it.

"In order to make meaningful policy changes, we need to fully appreciate the problem. It's very hard to deal with a problem when we don't know the scope of it."
Emily Maggioncalda
School of Medicine grad student

According to a 2015 Association of American Universities' nationwide survey, less than 28 percent of incidents are reported to an organization or agency. Victims cite embarrassment, lack of faith in the reporting process, and a belief that their experience—regardless of severity—didn't seem serious enough to report. Relying solely on those who have gone through the official reporting process risks downplaying the prevalence of sexual misconduct.

According to Kimberly Hewitt, the university's vice provost of institutional equity, the survey will be used to both look at trends and inform the school's strategies for combating sexual violence. Results from past climate surveys at Hopkins have led to additional staff for JHU's Office of Institutional Equity, sexual misconduct training for all incoming students, and an increase in outreach on behalf the university's existing support resources.

In the past, Hopkins has distributed its own individualized climate survey. Results from the spring 2018 survey were shared last week. This year, the university has adopted the AAU survey, which includes standardized questions that allow for direct comparisons among responses from universities across the nation.

According to the AAU's most recent survey, 11.7 percent of student respondents nationwide said they have experienced a sexual assault, with nearly one in four women reporting a sexual assault or sexual misconduct.

"In order to make meaningful policy changes, we need to fully appreciate the problem," said Emily Maggioncalda, a grad student working to promote survey participation among School of Medicine students. "It's very hard to deal with a problem when we don't know the scope of it, and especially with issues of learner mistreatment and sexual harassment and assault, it is indicated that these events are underreported."

The survey is anonymous and takes about 30 minutes. About 20 percent of participants will be selected at random to receive a $10 Amazon gift card upon survey completion. Students are encouraged to take the survey even if they have not experienced misconduct so that results provide a complete and accurate indication of the prevalence of sexual violence on campus.

If you are a victim of sexual harassment, discrimination, or misconduct, there are resources available to you. The JHU Sexual Assault Helpline, 410-516-7333, is a confidential service available 24/7 to all Johns Hopkins University students that is staffed by professional counselors and provides assistance to those affected by sexual misconduct. You can also contact the Johns Hopkins Compliance Hotline at 844-SPEAK2US (844-773-2528) for help or make a complaint to OIE online at sexualassault.jhu.edu.