Amid ongoing national dialogue about sexual violence on college campuses, the Yale College Council and Yale Women’s Center are collaborating to assess the University’s sexual misconduct reporting resources.
On Wednesday, the two organizations released a survey to the student body, asking for input on the mechanisms currently in place to address complaints of sexual misconduct. The survey’s results, collected anonymously, will be used by the Women’s Center and YCC Task Force on Sexual Health to compile a report, which will eventually be presented to the administration and the campus as a whole. The survey aims to engage a broader cross-section of student opinion, said task force member Emma Goldberg ’16, a former Opinion editor for the News.
“We’re hoping to reach all sorts of students, not just students who have had personal experiences with Yale’s system of addressing sexual misconduct,” Goldberg said. “Our hope in doing this survey is to get all sorts of new information that the administration doesn’t already have.”
For example, she said, the survey aims to discover why some students who have experienced sexual misconduct may have chosen not to report it, and to understand what may be the perceived obstacles to reporting.
The YCC Task Force on Sexual Health formed last September, and it began partnering with the Women’s Center midway through the semester in an attempt to combine the Center’s expertise with the YCC’s broader reach, Goldberg said.
The collaboration also included the University Title IX Office and the Office of Institutional Research, and both offices helped write the survey questions. Still, the survey is being administered by the task force and the Women’s Center, rather than the administration, because the groups want to emphasize that this is a student-driven project, said YCC president Michael Herbert ’16.
“We want to communicate that this is a student effort,” Herbert said. “One of our goals for YCC this year is to make substantive contributions regarding the most important issues on campus, and sexual climate is perhaps the most important issue of all. We felt it was important that we specifically do something on this because of how essential it is to students.”
All of the survey data will be analyzed and reported by students, Goldberg said.
Both Goldberg and Herbert said that while they believe the administration has made great strides in addressing sexual misconduct, this survey will simply provide another avenue for the student body to engage with the administration.
Alexa Derman ’18, public relations coordinator for the Women’s Center, also acknowledged the availability of resources on campus but said it is equally important that students are able to provide feedback about those resources.
“While we recognize and respect the many administrative and official avenues for complaint on campus, we also feel that it is crucial that students are able to hold the system accountable,” Derman said. “Student input, ideas and activism have consistently been important and productive forces in moving our community forward on issues of sexual misconduct.”
But of six students interviewed, none had completed the survey, and three had not even opened it. While the students who had opened it agreed that sexual misconduct is an important issue and said that they intend to complete the survey soon, they gave various reasons for not having done so yet, from being too busy to the email’s lengthiness.
“I think it’s good that YCC is keeping these types of thoughts on our radar, but I’m not sure if people will take the time to respond to them, simply because reading period can be a stressful time and email inboxes get flooded,” said Joel Bervell ’17.
Paul Steffan ’16 said that the survey assumed that students were familiar with current sexual misconduct procedures, and that in order to complete the survey he would have to read up on procedures first — something he knew he should do, he added, but that he didn’t know if many people actually would.
The report is expected to be published next month.