On Jan. 23, Kenyon students received a survey regarding Kenyon’s climate on unwanted sexual contact. According to Kenyon’s archives of student surveys, this is the third time this survey has been conducted at Kenyon, enabling members of Institutional Research at Kenyon to evaluate trends and places for improvement within the community.
The study is a collaborative effort between the College and the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium, an association that works to exchange data and professional knowledge among member institutions to advance undergraduate liberal arts education and student success.
Questions ask for students’ anonymous opinions regarding sexual misconduct at Kenyon, from assessments of its prevalence to evaluations of the accessibility of educational materials on campus.
“Our participation in this survey, along with many other colleges and universities, is in part prompted by national conversations about sexual assault on campuses and the implications of Title IX legislation,” President Sean Decatur wrote in an email to the student body. “An important step is understanding the type and scope of challenges we face in maintaining a safe campus environment where all students feel able to pursue their studies and interests without fear.”
Title IX and Civil Rights Coordinator Samantha Hughes described this survey as a powerful tool within the Kenyon community. “We try to dive a little bit deeper [using more Kenyon-specific questions], but I think ultimately, the entire campus benefits when it’s more informed,” Hughes said. She calls our world a “data-driven society” that uses information collected from surveys like these to examine complicated topics to spur discussion based on data rather than opinions.
Partially spurred by the sensitive nature of the topic, the survey aims to incite as little distress in participants as possible.
“If a respondent is generous enough to answer our survey we want to do our best to make it a neutral, if not positive, experience,” Director of Institutional Research Erika Farfan wrote in an email. “We’re very sensitive to the possibility of re-victimizing a respondent because of a poorly worded or constructed survey.”
This survey was designed with Kenyon students in mind, and the questions are specifically tailored to the community. Hughes hopes the analyzed data will help Kenyon to best serve its students in the future. “[Using the information] we can effectively educate, train and hopefully prevent any and all sex or gender-based harassment or discrimination,” she said.