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New Study of Michigan State University Students, Faculty and Staff Sheds Light on Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct on Campus

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, and Michigan State University (MSU) recently released the findings of Know More @ MSU survey, a campus-wide survey launched in March to inform MSU’s ongoing effort to foster a safer, more inclusive campus.

The survey showed that sexual harassment was the most common form of sexual misconduct among MSU undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Estimates of sexual assault victimization among undergraduate women (13 percent had experienced sexual assault during the 2018-2019 academic year) were within the range of estimates from previous climate surveys, including RTI’s 2015 Campus Climate Survey Validation Study (CCSVS). The study included surveys of MSU faculty and staff as well, finding that the majority of faculty and staff reported experiencing some form of workplace incivility during the 2018-2019 academic year.

The report also showed that women, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ individuals were more likely to report that they had experienced some form of sexual or relationship violence.

In collaboration with MSU’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup, experts from RTI designed and administered the surveys. All undergraduate students, graduate and professional students, and faculty and staff were invited to participate in the web-based survey that assessed participants’ perceptions about campus climate. The student survey also asked about participants’ experiences with relationship violence and sexual misconduct; the faculty and staff survey focused on sexual harassment and workplace incivility.

“These survey findings provide a starting point for MSU to make data-informed decisions about its prevention programming, policies, and services for survivors of relationship violence and sexual misconduct,” said Christopher P. Krebs, PhD, project lead and researcher at RTI.

Christine Lindquist, PhD, lead author of the report, adds: “The survey assessed a number of different dimensions of campus climate, finding a strong sense of connectedness to MSU among students, faculty, and staff; and high awareness of MSU-specific resources and programs related to relationship violence and sexual misconduct. However, certain aspects of climate, particularly trust in the upper administration at MSU, will likely need concerted, sustained effort to improve.”

Read the full report.