Report on Survey Results: White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault

August 2014

Lead Story Image.pngIn 2014, President Obama created the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The Task Force recommended that colleges and universities address the issue of sexual assault in three ways: 1) conduct campus climate studies, 2) provide preventative education to change climates and behaviors, and 3) respond effectively to victims of sexual assault.

The Association for Institutional Research (AIR) recently conducted a survey to determine members’ awareness of the Task Force and its recommendations. AIR randomly selected 574 members to participate in the study and an online survey was used to collect data from June 26, 2014 to July 11, 2014. AIR collected 204 responses for a 36% response rate.

We found:

  • 17% of senior IR/IE respondents and 29% of all other IR/IE respondents were unaware of the initiative.
  • 58% of senior IR/IE respondents and 64% of all other IR/IE respondents have limited awareness of the initiative.
  • The remaining respondents (25% of senior IR/IE respondents and 7% of all other IR/IE respondents) are actively following the development. 
Activities Regarding the White House Task Force Initiative
Of those who were aware of the Task Force, we asked a series of activity questions. We found:
  • 50% of senior IR/IE respondents and 30% of all other IR/IE respondents said they have read articles about the Task Force.
  • 35% of senior IR/IE respondents and 11% of all other IR/IE respondents said they have discussed the Task Force with colleagues.

Providing Evidence

Of those who were aware of the White House Task Force, 55% of senior IR/IE and 32% of all other IR/IE respondents anticipate that their IR offices would be involved in providing evidence of their institutions’ climates regarding sexual assault. 

Concerns about Campus-Level Data Collection on Sexual Assault

We asked all survey respondents to share any concerns they have about campus-level data collection on sexual assault. We found:

  • The most cited theme was concern about protecting victims’ privacy and confidentiality.
  • The next most common theme was concern about data validity related to under-reporting by sexual assault victims.

What is your level of awareness about the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, and what are your concerns? Please comment below.



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Total Comments: 6
Bill posted on 8/14/2014 2:06 PM
This is important stuff that we all need to know about. Federal discussions and requirements are changing rapidly. Just today I spoke with officials at our campus about doign a sexual violence climate and service needs assessment survey.

Bill Knight
Kim posted on 8/14/2014 2:38 PM
I've been following this but am still confused as to whether the Campus Sexual Violence survey is mandated or not. If anyone knows of a particularly good source for following this, please let me know.
Julie posted on 8/14/2014 4:07 PM
Really interesting article that argues that surveys are not the answer and that the interpretation of the research by the Task Force and the media has been flawed:

Julie Carpenter-Hubin
Bill posted on 8/14/2014 4:18 PM
My understanding is that they are not yet mandated but may be in the future. Another possibility is that the feds conduct their own survey of our stduents . . . :(

Bill Knight
Jennifer posted on 8/18/2014 8:38 AM
This is a very important issue for all of us. A Climate Survey is not yet mandated and there is still much debate about what mandating such a survey would yield. There are pilot programs going on at institutions with prior work on the issue of campus sexual violence and we will see outcomes from those efforts in the next months.

On my campus, the people who are seeing material on this most regularly are the Title IX coordinator and the folks on Student Affairs. These offices may not see the IR office as a place to consult on the matter. Bill's point that a service needs assessment is a critical part of making sure that existing policies are known and understood and fixing gaps in knowledge and procedure is excellent.

Jennifer Brown
Amelia posted on 3/11/2015 10:50 AM
AIR's Campus Climate Workgroup prepared a statement that focuses on how IR professionals can be involved in campus-level strategies for addressing sexual assault. The statement is available on the AIR website at