New data is providing valuable insights on Michigan State University's climate, the incidents of relationship violence and sexual misconduct, and the impact of recent improvements made across campus on these critical issues.
The Know More at MSU campus wide survey was launched in March and led by the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup. Here to discuss the survey results are Dr. Rebecca Campbell, professor of psychology at MSU and advisor to the president on RVSM issues and Dr. Carrie Moylan, an assistant professor of social work.
“When our work group was formed in the spring of 2018 we were reviewing a report from Husch Blackwell that did an external look at all of our Title IX related policies and our services,” Moylan says. “And they recommended that MSU conduct a campus climate survey and that in particular we include faculty and staff in that survey. Our work group started at that point thinking about what would a survey like this look like? What would we want this to be at our university?
“We were really interested in understanding not just how often people in our community are experiencing sexual misconduct, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and relationship violence, but also more about the climate. What does it feel like to be part of MSU? What is the larger climate that might be impacting the experience of survivors that might be shaping the way those policies and practices are happening on our campus?”
“It's a comprehensive survey,” adds Campbell. “One of the first things we did was try to understand the incidence and prevalence of relationship violence and sexual misconduct on campus. And consistent with what we've seen in prior surveys of MSU and consistent with what we see in other surveys of other large public institutions is that this is a serious problem on our campus. We have a lot of folks who are experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. We have a lot of students who are experiencing sexual assault in their time here.”
“In addition to prevalence,” continues Moylan. “We also asked about awareness of services and that's where there's a little bit of good news that by and large many members of our community are aware of what resources are out there for people who are experiencing relationship violence and sexual misconduct.
“And we think that's a result of some of the hard work that's been done on this campus to try to make sure that people know about the services work through our prevention, outreach and education department through the Know More campaign. We were happy to see that people largely know where services are and how to access them.”
Both Campbell and Moylan feel MSU is making progress on these important issues.
“It does not happen overnight,” Campbell says. “That is for sure. And there are days that I feel absolutely we're moving in the right direction and then there's honestly, there's still days where it's like, ‘Oh boy, still a long way to go.’ What I really like about what I do in these roles is that every single day when I come to work I talk with people who ask me about what I'm doing, ask about what we're doing, ask how we can help. I mean it has been folks who've been working on elevator repair. It has been folks shoveling sidewalks. It's been students and other administrators. And to see that kind of constant engagement from members of the MSU community really helps. And that's what makes me feel like, Yes, we are very much moving in the right direction."
“I think the most important things to know about the survey is there's a lot of information and we encourage everybody to look at the report, to take some time to read through it, to have conversations with your colleagues and peers about what's in the survey. Come to some of our sessions and let us know what you think,” says Moylan. “A climate survey is not an end point. It's a beginning point. And a lot of work has gone into getting to the point of having this report, but this isn't the end of a process. It's really the beginning of a process of thinking about what we do with this information. It was never just to have numbers. It was always to say, ‘With those numbers, what is the next step?’"
“Over 15,000 members of the Spartan community participated in this survey and a lot of people disclose some very difficult experiences to us,” says Campbell. “And I thank them for their trust and for providing that information to us in this anonymous survey. We see you; we hear you; your experiences matter. We want to make sure that we're continuing to improve services for survivors, that the reporting process can become simpler, easier, and less burdensome. This information will help us change the campus culture here.”
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