Using data to inform a safer, more supportive campus environment

Penn is one of 10 universities participating in the Higher Education Sexual Misconduct and Awareness survey this spring, building upon similar undertakings in 2015 and 2019.

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In an email on Tuesday, Interim President J. Larry Jameson and Provost John L. Jackson Jr. invited undergraduate, graduate, and professional students across Penn’s 12 schools to participate in the Higher Education Sexual Misconduct and Awareness survey. It is the third survey since 2015 of confidential data-gathering on the topic, meant to inform policies, services, and interventions at Penn and other institutions.

Penn is one of 10 universities and colleges this year that will take part in the survey. Coordinated by Westat, an independent social science research firm, students have received a unique survey link via email, and, upon authentication with their PennKey and password, can access the survey with a single link.

“The safety and wellbeing of our students is our top priority, and we hope students will take time to engage in this important, voluntary survey,” said Jameson. “It is a useful tool to help us understand, prevent, and respond to sexual misconduct on our campus and assess the effectiveness of our education and prevention strategies. We’d really like to see 100% participation.”

The survey is designed to take about 20 minutes to complete, and students will have an opportunity to stop and pick up where they left off if needed. Penn participants will receive a $10 gift card for Amazon, CVS, or Visa (students choose which gift card they’d prefer, and Westat handles the distribution to protect respondents’ privacy.)

Past survey results as well as many other factors have influenced updates on campus, strengthening education, outreach, and response initiatives in recent years. The University has, for example, increased staffing at Penn Violence Prevention, and built engagement around the Penn Anti-Violence Educators peer education program, the Sexual Trauma Treatment Outreach and Prevention (STTOP) team at Penn Wellness, and Restorative Practices at Penn in the Center for Community Standards and Accountability. Other efforts have included events specifically at New Student Orientation, where all undergraduates this academic year participated in small group discussions about consent, led by students and staff.

The 2024 survey for Penn students will be available for four weeks. The survey is anonymous, and because the University will not know who has responded, all students will receive regular reminders. Due to privacy laws, particularly those in EU countries and other states or jurisdictions, the survey is only open to enrolled students in residence in Philadelphia.

Westat is scheduled to deliver the aggregate results across the participating schools this fall. At that time, Westat will also provide Penn with the University’s data to allow for comparisons to the aggregate results. As they were in 2015 and 2019, the results will be posted on the Office of Institutional Research & Analysis website.