MU to participate in AAU sexual assault climate survey

The survey will be conducted in April 2015.
Ben Kothe / Graphic Designer

MU will participate in an April 2015 sexual assault climate survey launched by the Association of American Universities.

The survey, announced last month, is part of an effort to provide safety, policies and legal action for campuses across the country, according to AAU. Many of its member institutions will participate by administering the survey to their undergraduate, graduate and professional students.

Counseling Center Director David Wallace said he believes taking the survey will have an impact on students from campuses across the country.

“AAU’s attempt is an initiative of something that will have an influence on others,” Wallace said. “Because it’s an organization within itself, once those schools do it, that will be an example.”

The survey could produce a more honest look at sexual assault in North American universities, Wallace said.

“It’s a serious and controversial topic,” he said. “We need to be honest about these things; we’ve got to know the facts. That’s the bravery that we see. We need to see it for what it is. We don’t need smoke screens.”

Anne Hedgepeth, government relations director for the American Association of University Women, said the survey will aim to gain insights about the specifics of sexual assault on campus. “The climate survey has the potential to (gauge a) situation with an intimate partner, (a family member, or a stranger),” Hedgepeth said. “Do you know who the perpetrator was? Was there a weekend where this happens more often? Taking action on this shows what happens on campus by finding additional details.”

One in 20 men and women have experienced unwanted sexual experiences, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. And 37.4 percent of female rape victims were first raped between the college ages of 18 and 24.

Wallace said managing the logistics of a sexual assault case can make it more difficult.

“One of the real concerns, with all the federal regulations, is finding a balance between trying to investigate and discover and deal with perpetrators, protecting victims and revealing this information,” he said.

Hedgepeth said she believes this survey should be available in all types of college campuses.

“In the end of the day, of the being honest, the devil is in the details on how the survey is being constructed,” Hedgepeth said. “There are great numbers of surveys that schools are being put to use.”

Wallace said he urges individuals who feel they have been victimized by unwanted sexual activity to seek counseling.

“The (Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention) Student Center and Student Services are all places where confidentiality is assured,” Wallace said. “If they report these to one of the protected categories, those people are mandated reporters. I want students to definitely have a place to come.”

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