Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey: FAQ

Survey Instrument

1.    Why did you conduct a sexual assault survey?
Luther College made the decision to participate in a sexual assault campus climate survey because we believed the information provided by the survey, which has been administered at institutions of higher education across the country, would provide useful and actionable information regarding student experiences, the climate and environment at Luther, policies and procedures used to resolve incidents of sexual assault, and how we can better target prevention efforts directed toward reducing sexual violence.

2.    Why did you select the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) instrument?
Luther chose the HEDS instrument because the survey is a strong instrument that has been used widely across higher education institutions, including many ACM (Associated Colleges of the Midwest), ELCA, and Iowa colleges and universities. The survey has been specifically designed for residential, liberal arts colleges and the context for comparing results across institutions is particularly helpful. Luther has also administered other HEDS surveys in the past and the experience with HEDS and the instruments has been strong.

Survey Methodology

3.    How and when was the survey administered?
Email invitations to take the electronic survey were sent to all degree-seeking students on February 6, 2017. The survey was open for three weeks through February 27 and during that open period, students received three reminders to participate in the survey.

4.    Why wasn’t the HEDS comparative data for specific institutions included in the findings?
When institutions agree to use the HEDS Sexual Assault Survey they agree to the following HEDS rules regarding dissemination of survey results:

  • We will not identify participating HEDS institutions by name to any person or organization outside of the consortium.
  • In any public presentations or dissemination of data from the survey on or off campus, HEDS institutions must not identify other HEDS institutions that participated in the survey or display the data from any single HEDS institution, even if that institution is not identified. In these settings, HEDS institutions should only present pooled data from other HEDS institutions or other comparison groups that contain at least five institutions.
  • In deciding how to share HEDS peer data from this survey on campus, the HEDS primary contact agrees to do two things. First, the primary contact will be responsible for working with the senior leaders at her or his institution to identify the people on campus who need to see HEDS peer institutional data in order to respond effectively to the survey findings. Second, the primary contact and senior leaders will ensure that everyone who has access to HEDS peer data recognizes and accepts their obligation to prevent any public disclosure of participating institutions’ identities and data.
  • Finally, unlike with other HEDS surveys, HEDS institutions participating in this survey will not receive individual-level data from other HEDS institutions. Instead, they will receive only their own student-level data, which we will deprecate to preserve the anonymity of individual students.

5.    What results are being shared?
The Summary of Findings report is designed to share significant and important findings from the survey that are relevant to the community and to help initiate conversations and actions to improve our community environment. The findings can be reviewed on the Luther Title IX website. Full survey results are available internally on the Office of Assessment and Institutional Research’s website.

6.    How was sexual assault defined on the HEDS instrument?
Survey respondents were provided with the following statement before being asked questions related to sexual assault:

In the next set of questions we ask about experiences you may have had with sexual assault on campus at Luther College or during off-campus events or programs sponsored by Luther College. When we ask about sexual assault, we are referring to five specific types of sexual contact, which you did not want or for which you did not give consent:

  1. Touching of a sexual nature (kissing you, touching of private parts, grabbing, fondling, rubbing up against you in a sexual way, even if it was over your clothes).
  2. Oral sex (someone’s mouth or tongue making contact with your genitals, or your mouth or tongue making contact with someone else’s genitals).
  3. Vaginal sex (someone’s penis being put in your vagina, or your penis being put into someone else’s vagina).
  4. Anal sex (someone’s penis being put in your anus, or your penis being put into someone else’s anus).
  5. Anal or vaginal penetration with a body part other than a penis or tongue, or by an object, like a bottle or candle.

7.    Could students report more than one sexual assault?
Yes, students were asked whether they experienced multiple incidents of sexual assault. Following that question, the survey instrument directed respondents to provide in-depth information with respect to one assault.

8.    Is it possible to provide data for specific groups by race and ethnicity or other demographic classifications?
We have only very basic demographic information and disaggregated results available to us. Due to the sensitive nature of this survey and to protect the anonymity of individual students, our student-level data files from HEDS do not allow for drilling down further.

9.    How were students asked about their gender identity?
The instrument contains three response options for the question about gender: man, woman and fill in. Some respondents also left this question blank.

10.    Why don’t some of the percentages in the findings total to 100?
Students may have left gender, class year, or even more sensitive questions about incidents related to sexual assault blank for a variety of reasons (because they felt they were maintaining their anonymity, due to the difficult nature of the topic, the particular question posed, etc.). In these instances, the findings might total less than 100%. Secondly, several of the survey questions related to unwanted sexual contact and sexual assault allowed the respondent to choose all of the responses that applied. For those questions, the response provided was divided by the number of students who said “yes” they had been sexually assaulted, so the total percentages may be more than 100.

11.    What about the written comments? Why aren’t those included in the analysis?
In order to ensure the respondents’ comments were and remain private. If the written comments were to be shared, it is possible that an individual could be identified based upon what they wrote. Therefore, we have chosen to release only a list of the common themes. The written comments are being given full attention by the Title IX coordinator, Matt Bills.

Additional Resources

12.    How do the results compare to national data?
Many institutions have made their campus climate and sexual assault survey data publicly available. The results from the Association of American Universities (AAU) survey, for example, are available at However, it is important to note that in most instances, it is not possible to compare results across institutions unless the questions and response options are identical. Many institutions who have administered the HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey have made their findings available on their institutional websites as well.

13.    Where can I find additional campus and local resources for sexual assault?
Information can be found on the Luther College Title IX website.