The White House released guidance on Friday pushing colleges and universities to conduct campus climate surveys to ensure ongoing compliance with Title IX, the gender equity law requiring schools to respond to and prevent sexual violence on campus.
A best practices document presented last week with the Obama administration's "It's On Us" campaign encouraged colleges to conduct the surveys "in consultation with research personnel with expertise in survey design and data collection and analysis." Schools should analyze the data collected "to assess the rates and nature of sexual misconduct, any location hot-spots or risk factors, knowledge of the College’s sexual misconduct policies, procedures and resources, and the consequences of violating such policies," the White House said.
The college's Title IX coordinator should be in charge of these climate surveys, the administration suggested.
The White House first made a push for the surveys in April, releasing a sample survey along with the first report from the administration's task force on sexual assault. It is currently conducting a pilot survey with Rutgers University. Legislation proposed in July by a bipartisan group of lawmakers would create a mandate for colleges to do the surveys annually.
Higher education groups have shown a resistance to implementing the surveys, though the idea of conducting them is widely endorsed by advocates and experts on the topic. Groups like the National Association of Student Affairs Administrators and the American Council on Education, which represents college presidents, started showing opposition to the surveys soon after the White House task force report in April. Since then, they have largely remained reluctant to back the surveys -- though they haven't ruled them out.
However, in a sign that college administrators are warning up to the Obama administration's policy proposals on sexual violence, NASPA created the #SAPledge Friday, pushing campus officials to "talk openly about sexual assault."
Signing the pledge would mean student affairs employees would promise to challenge "negative gender stereotypes, sexism, and rape culture on campus," and to "listen to, believe, and assist victims of gender-based violence."
"We’re supporting the 'It’s On Us' campaign and expanding it to have student affairs administrators pledge their commitment to end all gender-based violence," NASPA President Kevin Kruger said Friday.