EWU administers ‘very explicit’ Title IX survey to assess prevalence of sexual assault on campus

Public News Service - ID

By Brad Brown, contributing writer

EWU officials administered a voluntary and anonymous Title IX survey in hopes of improving prevention and response activities for sexual violence.

The survey is designed to assess multiple areas, one being to assess the prevalence of sexual assault, domestic violence, relationship violence and stalking on and off campus. Deemed to be “very explicit” in the online notice in Cullinan’s Corner, a portion of the survey asks student to confidentially answer questions regarding experiences with sexual violence.

The amount of incidents reported this year regarding sexual violence has increased from previous years. However, the increased amount in reports isn’t thought to be a result of more sexual violence, but rather people be more informed on how to report.

“We don’t look at the increase in reports as a bad thing,” said peer health educator Erika Ruppelius. “The increase if anything, shows us that people aren’t staying silent about this anymore.”

This past fall, all faculty and staff were provided training about their responsibility to notify the Title IX coordinator of all the reports they received of sexual violence, said Laurie Connelly,  associate to the president, in an email. This is also believed to have had an impact on the increased amount of incidents reported.

Ruppelius stated she would actually like to see the amount of reports continue to go up. “We’d like have the reporting rate go up because the estimations are that most people won’t actually tell law enforcement,” said Ruppelius. “They might tell a family member or friend but law enforcement or counselors often aren’t involved.”

One of the other main goals of the survey is to get an assessment of student bystander behavior and knowledge of resources on campus.

“A lot of what we want to go towards is preventing it from happening in the first place,” said Ruppelius. “We know that you can’t stop people from trying to sexually assault people. So what we want to do is get more bystander intervention in place.”

This includes reporting incidents at parties. Ruppelius advocated, “if you see something, say something,” referencing situations where friends or strangers should report when they notice somebody being taken advantage of.

Multiple sources stressed the importance for all students to take this survey. The results of the survey will be highly considered for potential policy changes in the future.

“It’s really important for people to take the survey,” said Ruppelius. “The more data we have the better.