On Wednesday, March 9, Bates students received an email to partake in an anonymous survey to “assess the climate around sexual violence and sexual harassment around campus, so as to make a change and progress.” Sent by Title IX Officer, Gwen Lexow, she hopes to gather “some hard data about what we are doing well and what we are not doing well” so that Bates can set their course in the right direction.
Bates was recently awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice in order to develop a four-year curriculum to educate students on issues surrounding sexual assault, emphasizing the importance of continued education through the entire college experience.
In “Letter to the Editor: Response to Charlotte Cramer’s 1/20 letter,” Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Josh McIntosh, and Lexow wrote, “The curriculum will not only provide foundational education regarding sexual violence, but it will also provide increasingly sophisticated programming that encourages bystander intervention, broad advocacy, and student leadership in the prevention of sexual violence.”
Participation in this survey is voluntary and students can choose to opt out of certain sections. The survey will close on March 31, giving students a three and a half week window to complete the survey. The data will be shared with the entire student population before spring break.
In the fall of the next academic year, Lexow will hold meetings with students “after we have some time to digest some of the information, so that we can start working on strategic plans,” she said. “We will be bringing it to student groups and open forums to look at the data closely and understand what it means to us, how other people interpret it, and how to move forward. It is very much supposed to be a dialogue about the data, with the intent to release it to everyone, for our goal is to be transparent with this.”
In addition to collecting data from the survey, the Sexual Assault Victim Advocate will be partnering with student organizations this winter to run a series on masculinity. According to Lexow, “We have not talked about masculinity on campus as an institution very much, except for in ReMasc.” The intent is to encourage men to speak about their perceptions of sexual harassment and violence on campus. Men also experience violence but are often reluctant to report to the institution. Another goal for next fall is to create a support group for sexual assault survivors.
To ensure that the participation rate of the survey is high, reminders will be posted on napkin holders and in Bates Today. Lexow wants to see a large percentage of the student body population taking the survey so that the data is exact. Further, one of the main areas of focus is to “figure out how to get men to take it because what we have seen in other institutions is that is it weighted heavily towards women completing it. We want to see the whole demographic of Bates participating.”