CUNY’s Sexual Violence Campus Climate Survey
New York State’s Enough Is Enough legislation, signed into law in July 2015, requires that all colleges and universities in New York State conduct campus climate surveys to measure the prevalence of sexual assault on campus, assess students’ attitudes and awareness about sexual misconduct, and help schools identify ways to address the problem. In the spring of 2016, CUNY launched its Sexual Violence Campus Climate Survey.
CUNY’s survey was sent to 270,000 students with messages from CUNY Presidents encouraging participation, stating: “The City University of New York is committed to ensuring a safe, healthy, and nondiscriminatory learning environment for all CUNY students…Your voice matters.” We received 30,000 responses.
The survey took approximately 20 minutes to complete and contained questions on:
- Campus Climate
- Campus Involvement
- Information and Resources
- Knowledge of Policies, Procedures and Resources
- Affirmative Consent
- Training and Bystander Intervention
- Sexual Harassment
- Non-consensual Touching
- Non-consensual Penetration
- Intimate Partner Violence
- Location of Incident
Among the findings from our survey are:
- CUNY students say they generally feel safe on their campuses and trust their college to treat a report of sexual violence seriously.
- Many students say they are not familiar with CUNY’s sexual misconduct formal reporting procedures.
- A high percentage of students show an applied understanding of affirmative consent but few students say that they are knowledgeable about CUNY’s policy on affirmative consent.
- The vast majority of CUNY students express a willingness to intervene to help protect others (i.e., bystander intervention).
- While students who participate in trainings report that most trainings are thorough and covered key topics (e.g., affirmative consent, reporting procedures, resources available, CUNY policies), a low percentage of students report attending a training.
- In cases of sexual assault, CUNY students report that the majority of perpetrators are neither enrolled at nor employed by CUNY.
- When an incident of sexual violence occurs, CUNY students say they are far more likely to go to a friend or a family member for help than to a college official.
- The majority of incidents of sexual misconduct experienced by students take place, they say, off- campus, and not at CUNY nor at CUNY-affiliated events or programs.
As an institution deeply committed to a safe, healthy, and nondiscriminatory learning environment for all students, moving forward, CUNY will focus on a number of issues, including increasing the number of students who:
- understand their rights if they experience sexual misconduct at CUNY;
- understand the role and responsibilities of the campus Title IX coordinator;
- receive training;
- are knowledgeable about formal reporting procedures;
- understand the concept of affirmative consent and CUNY’s policy on Sexual Misconduct; and
- are familiar with the many on-campus and off-campus resources
One finding in particular obliges CUNY to evaluate available services for students who experience sexual violence off-campus. Our survey findings show that for CUNY students, the majority of incidents of sexual misconduct take place off campus (e.g., on public transportation, at work) and not on CUNY campuses or at CUNY-affiliated events. Our students come to school with these experiences and the University needs to be responsive to their needs. Because experiences with sexual violence can affect students’ academic experience, it is necessary that the university be equipped to detect and address the needs of students who experience sexual violence off-campus. Therefore, a task force will be formed and charged with evaluating current supports and services for these students and issuing recommendations on how to expand upon currently available services to meet the needs of students who experience sexual violence off-campus.
The City University of New York will use the results of this survey to improve our ability to meet the needs of our students and other community members. CUNY will work closely with students, staff and faculty to
1) develop strategies and programs for improving the university’s responses to sexual misconduct and ensuring that we are protecting the community from all forms of sexual assault and
2) provide educational training consistent with the Enough is Enough.
Appendix A: Graphs and Tables
Appendix B: Survey Instrument