Following up on the White House Sexual Assault Climate Survey

While the White House Sexual Misconduct Survey may be finished, the conversations surrounding sexual assault and violence on campuses are not yet over—especially at Colorado College.

On March 5, the Student Organization for Sexual Safety (SOSS) hosted an open discussion on the climate survey and to hear any responses students may have had. While those who attended had the opportunity to express their experiences with the survey, the event itself revealed a larger picture of the campus attitude towards sexual assault.

To recap from last issue’s article on the survey:

• The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault issued a mandatory call for all schools receiving federal funding to conduct a campus-wide survey on sexual assault particular to each university or college.

• Colorado College was one of the schools that opted to design their own survey in order to expand a bit more on other issues of violence, such as stalking. The survey was conducted during Block 6 and was kept open until 1,000 responses had been recorded.

• Different tactics were used to encourage students to actively engage with the survey. SOSS had a table in Worner all of third week, and professors had the opportunity to provide pizza to any students in their classes who stayed after class to complete the survey.

• By the time the survey discussion came around, over 900 responses had already been recorded.

“We wanted to open a space to process the experience of taking the survey because we know that some of the questions could be a little bit triggering,” said senior Lauren Athans, co-chair of SOSS.  “Or also if [students] had any questions about the survey or why they were being asked to take this survey.”

Although attendance was fairly low at the open discussion, Athans found the turn out to be representative of a larger cultural attitude towards sexual assault. Most of the students who attended were SOSS members or people actively involved in campaigns against sexual assault, and all but one attendee were women.

“It was an interesting example that we’ve seen before where students who maybe need to talk about this the most or students who have never talked about it before aren’t really using the resources we put forth,” said Athans.

Athens was especially unsurprised by the gender dynamics of the event.

“In our society, men—especially college men—are sent the message that gender issues are women’s issues and give them the excuse to ‘check out’ mentally,” said Athans. “A lot of my male friends said that they’d take the survey, but only because they knew me. They said it wasn’t really their issue.”

One common theme touched upon at the discussion and re-articulated by Athans is that the CC administration handles sexual assaults and violence fairly well.

However, students are finding their peer-to-peer and community experiences or responses to be hostile.

Athans and SOSS invite all members of the CC community to continue these conversations in April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Upcoming events include a panel on intersectional perspectives on sexual assault on April 1, a performance art piece, film screenings, and the annual Take Back the Night open mic event.

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