Matthew "Sleazy St. Louie" Trunko/The Hoya
Matthew Trunko/The Hoya

Georgetown University’s first Sexual Assault and Misconduct Climate Survey, which closed at midnight on Monday, Feb. 15, saw participation from 51 percent of the entire student body according to recently released figures, meeting the university’s 50 percent participation rate goal.

“I am very encouraged by the strong response from our students to this vital survey. The results and insights from this survey will be valuable in more fully understanding sexual assault on campus, and will help us to shape our programs and policies effectively as we go forward. I’m grateful to all the students and colleagues who have worked hard on this project,” Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson wrote in a statement to The Hoya.

Released to graduate and undergraduate students Jan. 14, the survey was based on a template developed by the Association of American Universities in late 2014. The Sexual Assault Working Group, made up of students and administrators, then specifically tailored the template to fit Georgetown’s unique collegiate climate.

Twenty seven other universities, including Harvard University, Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania have used the survey to measure sexual violence and misconduct on their campuses.
Once the university extended the survey deadline from Feb. 6 to Feb. 15 following initially low yields, participation began rising steadily with 40 percent of the overall student body completing the survey by Feb. 11.

At the survey’s close, 62 percent of all undergraduates and 40 percent of graduate students are reported to have participated. The survey’s average participation rate is 19 percent among participating institutions. Harvard obtained a 53 percent participation rate, Yale had 52 percent, and Brown University had 36 percent.

In an email to the student body Wednesday, University President John J.DeGioia applauded the community in its participation while emphasizing the importance of data in addressing sexual misconduct.

“Your efforts will have a distinct impact on our ability to better address instances of sexual assault and strengthen our culture of care for all members of our community,” DeGioia wrote. “We look forward to sharing the results of the survey with our community in May and to working together on the best ways to use this data to inform our future efforts.”

According to the results released by the university, the most participants came from the School of Nursing and Health Studies, which saw a completion rate of 76 percent, followed by the School of Foreign Service at 69 percent. The two schools with the lowest participation rates included the McDonough School of Business at 41 percent and the School of Continuing Studies at 34 percent.

University Title IX Coordinator Laura Cutway said the data is relevant in establishing future initiatives to address policies aimed at targeting sexual assault.

“I couldn’t have asked for better results,” Cutway wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I am very proud of Georgetown and how we have all come together to encourage one another to take part in this important endeavor. The depth of this feedback will inform our initiatives moving forward and will be felt all over campus.”

Georgetown University Student Association President Joe Luther (COL ’16) also praised the community for its help and contribution to the survey.

“We’re very happy with the turnout from the survey. With such a high participation rate in the future, GUSA and the administration will be able to use the data to craft more effective policies regarding sexual assault,” Luther wrote in an email to The Hoya.

Students across the community praised the survey’s results, calling it a welcome step forward in addressing issues of sexual misconduct on campus.

Brett Voyles (SFS ’19) said she appreciated the survey as a medium and platform for students to voice their personal opinions.
“I think we sometimes feel uncomfortable sometimes asking these questions, so I think it was important that they asked them. I felt like it was a good way for people to voice their opinions on what is actually going on,” Voyles said.

Jason Yoo (MSB ’18),  said he thought that the low turnout from MSB students most likely stems from the timing of spring recruitment season for business internships.

“A lot of juniors and sophomores are more focused on getting internships for the summer,” he said. In response to the significant participation rate among members of the NHS, Alondra Navarro (COL ’19) said NHS students may have a greater interest in student health than students in other schools at Georgetown.

“A lot of the NHS students are in health, their objective is health, and I guess they have more of a passion for that,” Navarro said. “Whereas MSB students are more interested in business and not really interested in that topic or they don’t know much about it.”

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