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Last semester, Penn was one of 28 colleges that participated in a sexual climate survey that was sponsored by the Association of American Universities and administered by the independent social science research firm Westat.

Credit: Pat Goodridge

Penn’s administration is anticipating the results of last April’s sexual assault climate survey, set to be released in the next few weeks.

Penn was one of 28 colleges that participated in the survey, which was sponsored by the Association of American Universities and administered by the independent social science research firm Westat. The questionnaire required 20 to 30 minutes to complete and was designed to collect information on students’ experiences with sexual misconduct on campus.

Though no release date has been announced by the AAU — which is currently chaired by Penn President Amy Gutmann — Penn is expecting to see results within the next few weeks. While the AAU will report the aggregate results of the survey, Penn will be responsible for disclosing its individual information.

Gutmann noted that she intends to immediately publicize Penn’s results and that she hopes the new information will help the administration’s efforts to solve a deep and pervasive problem.

“I think seriously the survey will help inform us more, and that will be the same for all institutions,” she said. “I have said quite a while ago what I still stand behind, and that is that one sexual assault is one too many.”

Although the University has taken several steps to streamline the process by which complaints of sexual assault are adjudicated — such as the hiring of a sexual violence investigation officer — Gutmann believes that Penn can improve its efforts to stop such crimes from happening in the first place.

“We really also are very focused on proactive measures of prevention,” she said, “and I think that’s an area where we continue to have to look and ask our students what more can be done.”

Provost Vincent Price, who specializes in survey research, echoed Gutmann’s enthusiasm at the opportunity to make more informed change.

“This is a chance for us to assess the climate at Penn,” he said in a meeting with The Daily Pennsylvanian in late August. “What I look forward to is taking those results, whatever those results are ... and ask how we can move forward.”

The survey’s success may be hampered by a low student-response rate — the day before it closed, only 25 percent of students had responded, compared to a goal of high-30 to mid-40 percent of students. However, the final response rate has not been released.

While the survey was live, Vice President for Institutional Affairs Joann Mitchell explained that the lack of participation might be due to the survey’s timing. The survey was administered during a particularly busy window that included Easter, Passover, Spring Fling and early preparation for finals.

However, Mitchell said the importance of the information being collected was worth the time commitment.

“At the end of the day, it’s an investment of their [students’] time that will help us ensure that we have a campus that is free of sexual assault and sexual misconduct,” Mitchell said in a DP article last April. “It’s really, really important, not only for students who are on campus now, but to students who will follow them in the future.”

Check back in the next few weeks for The Daily Pennsylvanian’s coverage of the survey’s release.

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