Opinion guest column

Undergrad and grad students: take the AAU survey on sexual misconduct

The survey is anonymous and essential to helping MIT understand and improve the campus climate.

It has been five years since MIT first conducted a campus-wide survey on attitudes towards sexual assault and misconduct, so some students may not know or remember how MIT responded to its past findings. The 2014 Campus Attitudes on Sexual Assault Survey (CASA) results offered a great starting point for making data-driven decisions about policies, education, and outreach efforts on campus, including increased transparency and support for students.

After the 2014 survey, a number of important steps were taken. For example, the Title IX Office and the Violence Prevention & Response Office have bolstered peer-to-peer support resources and programs. This change came from the finding that 63 percent of MIT respondents who reported experiencing unwanted sexual behavior told someone about it, and 90 percent of those students sought support from a friend. Additional survey results led to important policy and procedural changes, such as including new trainings on creating inclusive learning environments; updating the definition of sexual misconduct for MIT’s misconduct policy; and adding a new online reporting form to lower the barriers for contacting the Title IX Office.

The 2019 Association of American Universities (AAU) Campus Climate Survey gives us the chance to help make the same positive difference and lays the groundwork for the next generation of introspection and change. Combined with the 2014 survey results, the data from this year’s survey will help MIT redouble its efforts, make changes, and address new issues that might arise. Both the 2014 and 2019 surveys contain important questions about sexual and gender harassment in social, professional, and academic settings. A strong response rate will help MIT assess these issues to better focus prevention efforts because a larger sample size will improve confidence about the survey’s results.

People may be concerned about how their data is used, especially in light of the sensitivity of its subject matter. The survey is administered via a secure third party system, and information about who completes the survey is not available to anyone, even MIT affiliates. There is no penalty for not participating, and you can choose to leave questions blank if you would prefer not to share certain information. No identifying information about an individual or a group is connected to the results; only what students answer on the survey will be reported, and responses will be presented in summary form so that no individual can be identified. Given the explicit and sensitive nature of the survey content, student privacy is of utmost concern.

The high response rate to the 2014 survey enabled impactful decisions and changes to MIT’s resources on sexual assault and misconduct. It is vital that as many students as possible take the 2019 survey — both undergraduate and graduate. Please help MIT help you!

The 2019 AAU campus climate survey will be open April 2 to May 1. Check your email for a link to the survey. Upon completion of the survey, you will receive a $10 Amazon gift card or $10 donation to a charity of your choice.

Title IX Student Advisory Committee
Graduate Women at MIT
Undergraduate Association
Graduate Student Council