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Harvard University, along with 27 other universities, to conduct a confidential sexual assault an...

By Beth Kozik, MBA Student & Academic Services April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in the United States. The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities on how to prevent it. It is apropos that this April, Harvard University, in cooperation with the American Association of Universities (AAU), and 27 other universities, will conduct a confidential sexual assault and sexual misconduct climate survey. Harvard’s survey period will begin April 12 and end May 3. The other 27 institutions will also launch this spring, with each institution choosing their own three week period in April and May. AAU has contracted with a private research organization, Westat, to conduct the survey. This will ensure confidentiality and comparability across institutions. The sexual misconduct climate survey was an early recommendation of the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Assault which was established by President Faust last year. President Faust will email every degree-seeking student two days in advance of the initial Westat email. On April 12, all degree-seeking students at all Harvard schools will be invited to participate in the survey. Participation by the broadest range of students is crucial in order to truly understand the ways in which sexual misconduct affects Harvard’s campuses. The survey is intended to gain an understanding of all forms of sexual harassment and assault. In order to achieve an accurate idea of the campus climate, it is important to hear from all students - even those who think that sexual assault does not affect them personally. While the survey is open, Westat will send three reminder emails, on April 15, April 22, and April 29. In order to ensure confidentiality, all students will receive all reminder emails, even if they have already completed the survey. The survey will take on average 20 minutes and participation is voluntary. Questions on the survey are explicit. There are no open-ended questions on the survey; therefore no student will be able to provide identifying information about themselves or others. Every page of the survey will include links to resources regarding the survey and links to Harvard specific resources if respondents experience distress or would like to report an instance of sexual misconduct. A small token of appreciation will be offered to students in the form of a $5 Amazon Gift Card once they complete the survey. The survey instrument will be made public once Westat’s survey administration period is closed by the end of May. Harvard expects to share aggregated results from the climate survey with the Harvard community and will do so in a way that protects the privacy of participants. As this is a confidential survey, data will be anonymized for all reports of results. Information gained through this survey will help inform the Task Force and other efforts to better prevent sexual assault at Harvard and to better support Harvard community members who experience it. A high response rate on the survey is therefore an important goal. For more information please contact Beth Kozik in the office of MBA Student & Academic Services at

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