The survey elicited responses from 578 students, or 46 percent of the student body, among the highest response rates in the country among colleges that administered the survey through the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium.
In two categories of questions, students were asked about their first-hand experiences with unwanted sexual behaviors, including sexual assault, and about their perceptions of the campus climate, including perceived safety and confidence in Beloit’s reporting system.
Nearly 11 percent of respondents reported they had been sexually assaulted. This compares with 20 to 25 percent of college students nationally, and with 9 percent among other small colleges that participated in the study. The survey also revealed that women were experiencing unwanted sexual behaviors (physical contact, verbal, and nonverbal behaviors) in greater numbers than men, but that men were also experiencing them.
Students were also asked about perceptions, including whether they believed campus officials would take reports of sexual assault seriously. More than 74 percent of students agreed or strongly agreed that a report would be taken seriously at Beloit, while nearly 60 percent said they agreed or strongly agreed that campus officials would conduct a careful investigation. Fifty-seven percent agreed or strongly agreed that Beloit students would intervene if they witnessed a sexual assault.
The survey was part of Beloit’s recent efforts to reduce incidents of sexual assault and unwanted sexual behaviors. The college has also stepped up bystander training, adapted policies, procedures, and investigator training, clarified reporting processes, and offered training for faculty and staff about their roles as mandatory reporters.
A working group formed in the fall to study the survey data more deeply, with the goal of making recommendations for the next two years. Students in a capstone sociology course, taught by Professor of Sociology Kate Linnenberg, are also studying the data and making recommendations. Dean of Students Christina Klawitter’98 said that post-survey goals are coalescing around improving victim assistance, better understanding Beloit’s peer culture, learning more about the relationship between alcohol and sexual assault, and increasing trust and transparency in the reporting processes.