Campus

Loyola Plans Survey After Assault Reports Surge

Courtesy of Loyola University ChicagoLoyola's Title IX department fields reports of gender-based misconduct.

Loyola is planning to launch a campus-wide survey about gender-based misconduct early next semester after the school fielded 26 reports of sexual assaults this school year alone, compared to 14 reports at this time last year.

Of the 26 reports of sexual assaults made this semester, eight of the incidents occurred this year and the dates of seven more were unreported or otherwise unknown. The other 11 did not occur this semester. Two of the incidents that occurred this year were on-campus assaults allegedly committed by students.

Loyola’s Title IX department, which is responsible for preventing and responding to sex discrimination, will administer the school-wide survey to all students, faculty and staff in an email introduced by the president, according to Title IX coordinator Tom Kelly. It will ask members of the Loyola community if they have ever experienced gender-based misconduct in the past and what the incidents were like, Kelly said. Loyola will also use the survey to gauge the community’s knowledge and perception of how Loyola handles reports of sex discrimination.

The survey comes after the university saw a surge in reports of gender-based misconduct this semester.

There were 76 total reports of gender-based misconduct, which includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual misconduct, relationship violence and stalking this semester, according to Tim Love, the associate dean of students and interim Title IX deputy coordinator. That is 27 more reports than there were at this time last year, and just eight less than were reported during the entire 2015-16 academic year.

However, reported incidents do not necessarily occur at Loyola or even during a student’s time at Loyola.

The Title IX department takes a record of any situation when a student reaches out to Loyola for resources or support regarding incidents of gender-based misconduct or sexual assault, even if the incidents occurred in high school or earlier. Campus Safety’s police logs show a much smaller number of reports, as it only shows reports of those who sought action through Campus Safety.

Kelly said his office views increasing reports as a “positive sign” because it means people are coming forward to receive resources and support from Loyola, and doesn’t necessarily mean the incidents are occurring more frequently. He said he hopes that the survey will give an indication of what incidents take place at Loyola.

The survey will also help Loyola’s Coordinated Community Response Team (CCRT), which focuses on education and prevention of gender-based misconduct and sexual assault.

The CCRT is comprised of various Loyola faculty, staff and students, along with members of off-campus organizations such as YWCA Evanston/North Shore, a group that advocates for racial and social justice and women’s rights.

Kelly said Loyola has never administered a survey about this topic before, but the administration has considered it since President Barack Obama signed a memorandum two years ago directing the Office of the Vice President and the White House Council on Women and Girls to form a task force addressing campus sexual assault.

These two departments formed the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault in January of 2014. The task force released its first report in April of that year and advised universities to conduct campus-wide surveys to better understand students’ experiences before and during college, along with their perceptions of colleges’ policies.

The task force has since updated the 2014 report with a link to a packet released in October this year with further guidelines for campus surveys on sexual assault.

Loyola waited to see how other colleges conducted the surveys before initiating its own, according to Kelly.

Other Jesuit colleges have already implemented surveys on sexual violence on campus, including Fordham University in New York and Xavier University in Cincinnati. Both schools conducted surveys in 2015 asking questions about students’ experiences with sexual violence at the schools and about community awareness of the university’s resources.

Xavier’s survey also included faculty and staff members. It found that 71 percent of students reported they believed the university responds effectively to complaints of sexual discrimination and sexual harassment.

Fordham University’s survey found that 6 percent of respondents had experienced sexual contact by force or threats since going to Fordham. In the United States, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexual assaulted in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Loyola’s survey is being finalized and is scheduled to be sent out via email early in 2017, according to Kelly.

Editor-in-Chief

Julie Whitehair is the editor-in-chief of The PHOENIX and a senior journalism student from Calumet City, Illinois. She hopes to combine her curiosity and love of words to continue reporting and storytelling after graduation, preferably in a large city.