Higher education

Results from University of Iowa climate survey delayed until fall

More 'statistical consultation was needed' due to small sample size

The Old Capitol building is shown in Iowa City on Monday, March 30, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
The Old Capitol building is shown in Iowa City on Monday, March 30, 2015. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Although the University of Iowa had planned to release results from a first-of-its-kind campus climate survey in the spring, a final report won’t be made public until fall due to “a smaller than anticipated sample size.”

Of the 32,000-plus UI students asked to participate in the survey aimed at evaluating sexual violence on campus, just 2,683 filled out the questionnaire — or about 8 percent. The university in the fall took steps to try and increase participation, extending the deadline by three weeks and changing portions of the questionnaire that had prompted some complaints.

Vice President of Student Life Tom Rocklin in December said some students cited as a deterrent the length of the “Speak Out Iowa” campus climate survey.

“We’ve also had isolated comments about specific aspects of the survey,” he told The Gazette at the time.

According to an update posted on the UI Division of Student Life website in May, the university had hoped to share a final report before the end of the spring semester.

“However, additional statistical consultation was needed to address a smaller-than-anticipated sample size, which delayed the final analysis,” according to the update. “Waiting until fall will allow us to engage with our campus constituents as we identify next steps.”

Faculty volunteers — while continuing their teaching and research obligations — are leading the analysis, according to the update signed by Rocklin, UI Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President Georgina Dodge, and Monique DiCarlo, UI sexual misconduct response coordinator.

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News that UI survey results will be delayed comes with debate around the issue of campus sexual assault back the national spotlight — this time stemming from a Stanford University swimmer’s 6-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.

In the recent UI survey update, Rocklin, Dodge, and DiCarlo said they look forward to sharing results with the campus in the fall and “taking the time to have thoughtful conversations.”

“Assessing perceptions and reports of sexual misconduct, dating violence, and stalking are important and necessary steps that will inform the UI’s ongoing efforts to understand the extent of misconduct on campus, improve prevention efforts, and continuously improve our response to students harmed,” according to their message.

The university last year opted out of one of the most extensive surveys ever conducted on the issue of sexual violence on campuses in preference for their own. The Association of American University study, which canvassed about 150,000 students at 27 colleges including Iowa State University, had a 19 percent overall response rate — although some campuses saw much lower.

Iowa State’s response rate was 16.2 percent, according to the AAU report.

According to the Iowa State findings, 1 in 10 ISU students experienced some sort of unwanted sexual misconduct during their college years — below the national average of 11.7 percent, according to the AAU study.

Among female undergraduate students at the 27 institutions, the incidence rate was 23 percent — compared with 19.4 percent at Iowa State.

UI officials opted not to participate in that national survey, expressing concerns with its timeline and completeness, and instead pouring efforts into one more specific to the UI community.

The UI last year became one of the first institutions in the nation to use the Administrator-Researcher Campus Climate Collaborative survey — developed by campus advocates, students, law enforcement, and sexual assault researchers involved in sexual assault and misconduct summits in Georgia and Wisconsin.

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It was administered on campus by the university’s Sexual Misconduct Climate Survey Subcommittee of the Anti-Violence Coalition. However, shortly after it was rolled out Oct. 26, some students raised concerns.

UI graduate student Spencer Santos wrote a letter to UI President Bruce Harreld about his qualms with the survey, which he said posed accusatory questions to students who had answered “no” to queries about whether they had committed acts of sexual violence.

“This was upsetting and triggering to many who experienced the follow-up question identifying them as perpetrators,” Santos said in the letter. “And it is doubly upsetting that no announcement and apology for the error has been made public.”

Santos told The Gazette the survey was corrected by the time he logged on, and Rocklin in December confirmed that “students alerted us to two errors in the branching logic, which presented some with a question, or several questions, they should not have received.”

“Each issue was fixed quickly,” he said.

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