By Lexi Kelley /// Staff Writer
Recently, Lewis & Clark received new information about the prevalence of sexual assault on campus. During the Spring 2015 semester, The Campus Climate Survey was sent out to students at all three LC campuses. The survey focused on sexual assaults on campus, the information students have available to them, and how students think that campus officials would respond to such an event. LC is a member of the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium which offered this survey to 57 institutions. 54 of the 57 schools surveyed were smaller schools with populations less than 3500 students, similar to LC. In total, 673 students at the undergrad campus participated, which is 25.4% of the total population of the student body. The survey included the following four categories: the respondent demographics, an assessment of campus climate, assessing unwanted sexual contact and sexual assault and context and disclosure.
“A lot of institutions are doing research like this now,” John Hancock, the Associate Dean of Students for Health and Wellness and the school’s Chief Psychologist, said.
On Feb. 8, the initial results were made available to the community. This set of results includes the basic statistics for each of the previously mentioned categories. The results released at this time are the raw numbers. More analyzed results will come out later this semester, where the results will be broken down by gender.
“We’ve got a baseline now,” Melissa Osmond, Associate Director for Health Promotion, stated. Part of Osmond’s job is to prevent and respond to sexual assault on campus. She sees this survey as a platform from which the school can begin to make changes in its response and handling of instances of sexual assault. The survey allows for an analysis of student understanding so that changes to how the school educates students about sexual assault can be changed for the better.
A task force was recently created among different constituents on campus, led by Melissa Osmond and Cathy Busha, the Associate Dean of Student Engagement. While they are finalizing the members of the the group, Osmond and Busha are beginning the process of putting together a gender-based violence work group to help students who are victims of sexual assault. The results of this survey will help this task force to move forward with their initiative and give them a clearer picture of where LC needs the most work. By next spring, they are hoping to have a presentation for President Barry Glassner and the Executive Council to receive money from the Strategic Initiative Fund. The Strategic Initiative Fund is a sum of money that goes to aiding different projects on campus. The money can only be used for that one year and is distributed among all three campuses. Some of the projects that Osmond’s team hopes to initiate include increasing the school’s education efforts and creating a bystander intervention training course.
“Bystander intervention training would be great,” LC student Nick Hensley said.
In section four of the Campus Climate Survey, the results show that students at LC are less confident in Campus Officials to handle situations of sexual assault as compared to students at other universities.
“It’s about perception,” Hancock said in regards to the issue. “The students need to know that whoever comes forward will be taken seriously by campus officials.”
“The reporting system is confusing and long,” Hensley said. “The process is really painful for someone who just needs emotional support.”
Osmand stated that she would like to hear thoughts from students about what the school is doing well and what the school should work on in relation to education and the process of handling a situation of sexual assault.
Hancock expressed that he has multiple colleagues on this campus who focus on the issue of sexual assault on the LC campuses. These individuals include people like Osmond who work to create a safer, better-educated environment for all students. One of Osmond’s main concerns is doing the best job of helping victims of sexual assault.
“We want to do the best to support our students,” Osmond said.