The University of Oregon will conduct its own campus climate survey on sexual violence and will also participate in an Association of American Universities survey in order to gain more information and have some influence in how the national poll is conducted.
Interim UO President Scott Coltrane, who announced the dual surveys Wednesday in advance of a University Senate meeting, said results from both surveys will be shared publicly. A Campus Climate Survey Advisory Group is being formed to oversee the projects and advise Coltrane on campus sexual violence data.
“I value both the national perspective and ability to have comparative data of the AAU effort, and the more focused perspective of a UO effort,” Coltrane said. “And by taking advantage of both approaches we will be able to contribute to local and national debates about how to best measure, assess and address this pressing social problem.”
Coltrane has asked UO psychology professor Jennifer Freyd to serve on the advisory group. Freyd conducted a similar survey earlier this year and has shared preliminary results indicating that sexual violence is more widespread than other data has shown, a result that was disturbing but not unexpected.
The university already has heard a set of preliminary recommendations on steps to address sexual violence through the University Senate Task Force to Address Sexual Violence and Survivor Support. Another report, from the independent President’s Review Panel, is expected to be submitted next week.
Coltrane said he will make the review panel’s report public and will use both reports as the basis for a comprehensive plan to address sexual violence and misconduct. The surveys will provide baseline data for that plan as well as a benchmark to gauge the effectiveness of steps aimed at changing the campus climate.
In a letter to Freyd and other prospective members of the advisory group, Coltrane said he had hoped to delay a decision on the AAU survey but learned a response is needed this week. He said he anticipates the AAU survey taking place this spring and the campus survey in the 2015-16 academic year.
Funds for both surveys will be provided by the Office of the President. Whether dual surveys will be conducted in future years remains an open question, however.
“I do not know what type of survey should be continued going forward, but participating in both at this time will allow us access to comparative data that should help us to make decisions about the future,” Coltrane said.
—By Greg Bolt, Public Affairs Communications