After a campus climate survey was conducted last spring, a 75-page report on the findings regarding sexual misconduct at Michigan State was released to the community.
With more than 15,000 survey responses, the report discussed the experiences and opinions of students, staff and faculty at MSU.
One of the findings was that 27.3% of undergraduate women have experienced sexual assault since enrolling at MSU, and 8.5% of undergraduate men have as well.
"Those numbers, of course, are very concerning," MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said. "The prevalence of sexual misconduct, the prevalence of sexual assault on campus is very concerning, and so I think there's much we need to do."
The survey will not be one-and-done. In order to track progress at MSU, multiple surveys will be conducted regarding MSU's culture around sexual misconduct to see if new programs being implemented are effective.
"I think we are going to use these data to help us understand our educational outreach — what populations we need to reach out to, who are the most vulnerable populations to help us in terms of understanding what are the risks for different groups," Stanley said.
The timeline for when more surveys will be sent out has not been determined yet, in order to fully understand how different programs that were implemented this fall are received. The original survey was conducted in spring of this year.
Since the report is long and contains a lot of data, MSU’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct, or RVSM, Expert Advisory Workgroup will host discussions for the public to ask questions and provide ideas as to what the university can do better. The RVSM workgroup conducted the survey.
While Stanley will not be at the meetings, Rebecca Campbell, adviser to Stanley on RVSM-related issues and a professor of psychology, will be available to answer questions and relay thoughts to the president.
Any proposed ideas brought up during the discussions will be used in conjunction with the thoughts discussed during Stanley's three meetings with survivors to be considered when developing a strategic plan to help prevent sexual misconduct at MSU.
The survey results showed that individuals with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community were targeted more than their peers. When it comes to finding solutions to these problems, it comes back to listening to the affected groups, Stanley said.
"Part of that comes from listening to those groups, getting their ideas," he said. "I think sometimes the solutions we have for some groups may not be so applicable for others."
The best option is to identify and mitigate the risks, and to work together with other universities and communities to provide the safest campus for students.
The survey was compared to nine other institutions that conducted similar surveys. When it came to undergraduate women that reported being sexually assaulted since beginning college, the range was between 12% and 38%.
MSU sat at 27%.
"I knew there were challenges when I took the job, this is not a surprise to me that we have these challenges," Stanley said. "A pleasant surprise is that people really care about changing it and making it better, and that's really important."
Stanley said he has made one of his priorities since taking over as president to make MSU a safer university.
"What I've found is that people do want to make a difference," he said. "People care about other people at MSU, and we need to build upon that going forward to really build a safer, more welcoming and inclusive community."