Ohio University partnered with the Ohio Department of Higher Education to conduct the annual Campus Climate Survey. The anonymous survey’s deadline is Nov. 2 and students are encouraged to participate.
“…this is something we've been doing for several years now in coordination with all of the other public universities in Ohio,” Carly Leatherwood, a university spokesperson said. “The survey is really important to help us as a university, but also the state of Ohio to better understand the impact of sexual misconduct on university campuses in the state… but the data that we're able to have access to helps us make decisions about the support and programming that we're offering to students on our campus and also programming needs within our community.”
This year is different than any year before because faculty and staff are being included this year, according to Leatherwood.
“Campuses have always had the opportunity to evaluate their entire campus community when administering climate surveys, Kerry Soller, project manager of campus safety and sexual violence prevention of the Ohio Department of Higher Education said in an email. “Additional encouragement was placed on making sure that employees were included in the survey at the start of the 2019-2020 academic year because we wanted to see a better representation across all campuses in Ohio.”
Leatherwood thinks including faculty and staff gives another perspective.
“The questions are different for the students than they are from the faculty and staff, but they all would work together to get a big picture indication of what folks are thinking about our programming and how we're doing here at Ohio University to help combat sexual assault on our campus,” Leatherwood said.
The results of the survey feed into the university’s larger strategy.
“It's not just the survey that helps with our decision making,” Leatherwood said. We also do our own sexual assault survey every two years; we have the Presidential Advisory Council on Sexual Misconduct…and so our committee also sends out campus Climate Survey. The two surveys work together to help us drive things like investing in programming and decision making about where we need to focus.”
Sexual misconduct and supporting survivors aren’t new concepts. On move-in weekend, sexually explicit “bed sheet” banners appear across campus.
“We do not condone the (bed sheet) banners, obviously,” Leatherwood said. “It’s counter to our values as an institution. Because they're off campus, we don't have authority to have them taken down. We work in partnership with the city, so when we learn of houses on campus that had these banners up, it is a student conduct issue. But the thing that's been really neat over the past couple of years is that our students have really banded together to support our university values and our zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct on campus.”
If students see sexually explicit banners, they can report it to the Presidential Advisory Council on Sexual Misconduct.
“…even though we're in a pandemic, we're still focused on these issues. We have a lower density of students on campus, but still that work doesn't stop, and we’re still focused on that work because it's really important,” Leatherwood said.
Ohio University also partnered with Student Senate for the sexual assault awareness banner campaign. The banners, which are in support of sexual assault awareness, are hung on light posts. The messages on the banners are translated into six different languages, which are Cantonese, Spanish, Arabic, Thai, Swahili and Indonesian, according to a previous Post report.
Survivor Advocacy Program is the main resource on campus for supporting survivors. Survivor Advocacy Program, which is located in Lindley Hall, does not have mandated reporters, meaning that the counselors there aren’t required to report an assault.
Mady Nutter, a junior studying strategic communication, doesn’t necessarily support mandated reporting. She has experienced it in her CHOICES class and her human sexuality class recently. In both cases, the presenter wanted to create a safe space where survivors could share their story but couldn’t because there were mandated reporters present.
“I think that mandated reporting takes away agency from survivors, which I think is the thing that bothers me the most,” Nutter said. “You know, if we’re really wanting to support survivors and people who have survived any type of sexual assault or sexual misconduct, then the only thing we can do is give them back the control that was taken from them in the situation they survived. And by forcing them into taking action whether it’s through their confidant having to report them to the university or their situation to the university or just them sharing with someone they may have not even known was a mandated reporter. You’re taking away that support and then turning it into a situation where they can’t control it.”
Nutter also thinks mandated reporting takes away a really valuable support system.
“People who are mandated reporters are your professors, your RAs, TAs, learning community leaders…those people should be members of our community (who) are here to help us and offer support and resources, but not necessarily dictate how a survivor gets that help and pursues those resources,” Nutter said.