Campus climate survey 2017-2018 results available here.

Campus climate survey 2016-2017 results available here.

Campus climate survey 2015-2016 results available here.

Campus climate survey 2014-2015 results available here.

nustudent affairs

This year marks the 46th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark legislation passed by Congress that prevents discrimination on the basis of sex and gender and protects every student’s right to learn in a safe environment. Northeastern takes its responsibilities under Title IX very seriously.

With this in mind, I write to share the results of the university’s fourth annual campus climate survey, administered during the Spring 2018 semester. This voluntary, confidential effort allows us to gauge students’ experience with sexual violence on campus. It also helps shine a light on areas where the university can perform better with respect to its education and prevention programs, and coordination of resources for survivors.

By sharing these results, we seek to raise the community’s awareness about the continued importance of our work in this area. Unique about this year’s study is that all full-time undergraduate, graduate and law students were invited to participate. Instead of random samples as in previous years, we wanted every student to have the opportunity to have their voices heard. In all, we had a participation rate of 23.5 percent. We remain encouraged by this strong representation of the student community.

We added questions in the climate survey regarding domestic violence, sexual harassment, and stalking in addition to sexual assault. We also provided explicit definitions for each of these prohibited offenses in an effort to give students as much clarity in answering the questions. This is important because it allows us to get a fuller picture of what is happening, and captures experiences that may have been missed on previous surveys.  We are committed to tracking trends and using the data to inform our prevention and education services.

For the fourth year in a row, we saw a very high level of Northeastern students expressing that they feel safe on campus (93.6 percent). There were also increases in both the percentage of students reporting knowledge of the Title IX policy’s definition of consent (87.7 percent), and those who know where to go to get help if they or a friend experienced sexual violence (78.4 percent). This progress is encouraging.

Among other encouraging signs was a 20 percentage point drop in the number of students who heard jokes about sexual violence or demeaning comments about another person’s physique or attractiveness. A growing number of students (91.3 percent) agreed or strongly agreed that Northeastern students would support a person reporting sexual violence, while 81.5 percent—the highest level of all four years—disagreed or strongly disagreed that students would ostracize or stigmatize the person reporting sexual violence.

Despite this progress, there is always room for improvement. For example, 20.9 percent of the respondents reported being sexually touched without their consent since they’ve been at Northeastern, representing an increase from past years’ surveys. However, we have not seen these increases for attempted and completed sexual penetration without consent. Rates have remained relatively similar over the past three years. While any levels of victimization are too high, there are a variety of ways that we are examining this trend. As we changed the way we asked questions about prohibited conduct this year, it is possible that the increased clarity in the questions more accurately captured student experience. We are also hopeful that increased national concern and attention to this issue may lead to increased willingness to identify and report inappropriate behavior. We rely on the annual climate survey data to evaluate the culture surrounding sexual violence and inform our evidence-based educational opportunities that are focused on prevention as well as supporting affected students.

Second, we saw a decrease in the percentage of students who said they knew about each of the explicit rights and resources for Northeastern students who experience sexual violence – such as counseling, medical care, or alternative housing — demonstrating continued need for work to increase awareness of on-campus support and resources.

We continue to explore and experiment with ways to reach students throughout the academic year as well as their entire time at Northeastern. To that end, below are some additional steps we’ve taken in the last year as part of our continued focus on this issue:

Student Education

In addition to the existing efforts to share both policy and education on this topic at all new student orientation programs, the Office of Prevention and Education at Northeastern (OPEN) and the Office for University Equity and Compliance (OUEC) provided consent education at all international student orientation sessions.

We are excited to announce an official brand for Northeastern’s bystander intervention program.  “Up2Us” aims to prevent sexual violence in our community. Developed by OPEN in 2016, the program has continued to reach more students every year. The workshop teaches about healthy consent, proactive intervention, resource options and how to support survivors. In 2017-2018, OPEN completed bystander intervention programs with nearly 3,000 Northeastern students, including presentations with N.U.In students during Pre-departure Orientation, first-year students in First-Year Seminars, and athletes on varsity athletic teams.

This year’s climate survey is one tool that helps us look at the effectiveness of the program.  We compared students who received the program with those who had not and found a variety of positive outcomes. Students who received the program obtained greater knowledge of Northeastern’s definition of consent, a greater knowledge in campus resources, better understanding of ways to support those affected by sexual violence, and greater feeling of responsibility and intention to intervene in situations that could escalate to violence.

All incoming students, including graduate students, are required to complete an online and interactive interpersonal violence prevention program. This video-based program provides critical information about consent, bystander intervention, sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and much more.

Resources and support

The Sexual Violence Resource Center (formerly the ViSION Resource Center), located at 106 St. Stephen Street, continues to serve as a confidential entry point for survivors of sexual violence. OPEN staff at the center help to connect survivors with information about on- and off-campus resources and reporting options. Since the fall of 2016, the resource center has seen increased visibility and utilization. The university’s WeCare team is also available to provide academic and personal support.

The university provides sexual violence survivors with a number of on-campus and off-campus resources to facilitate access to immediate confidential medical care and counseling services, and incident reporting. Information on services and resources of campus and community partners targeting sexual violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and dating violence, can be found on the OPEN page.

With the goal of making more services more accessible, University Health and Counseling Services (UHCS), in conjunction with the Office of Prevention and Education at Northeastern (OPEN), continues to provide a psychoeducational support group, HEAL, for survivors of sexual violence. OPEN also hosts a variety of self-care programs including sessions on grounding exercises, trauma sensitive yoga, and healing through the arts.

Title IX policy

We have continued to update the Title IX policy to reflect best practices in the field.  See the full policy here: https://www.northeastern.edu/policies/pdfs/Title_IX_Policy.pdf

Sexual violence is not tolerated at Northeastern. Incidents of sexual violence should be reported to the Northeastern University Police Department (NUPD) or the Office of University Equity and Compliance (OUEC).

Full Results, Next survey

The full results from this year’s survey may be viewed HERE. Our fifth annual Campus Climate Survey is slated to go live later this month.

Lastly, as you may know, the U.S. Department of Education sought public comment about proposed new Title IX rules. Northeastern joined many of its peer universities in expressing concern with proposed changes that would alter definitions of prohibited sexual conduct and may disincentivize reporting. I want to assure you that the university remains steadfast in its commitment to maintaining a safe learning environment for all, and one in which victims of sexual violence always have access to vital resources and support.

Thank you for you continued participation in the survey and collaboration on these issues. Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

signature

Madeleine Estabrook

Senior Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs