Northern Michigan University has launched a sexual assault survey, in order to harvest information about how students respond when a peer confides in them about being sexually assaulted.
The survey can be found in an email sent to students.
In total, Northern Michigan University received more than $19,000 through Michigan Campus Sexual Assault Grant Program, which gave $382,200 grants to 13 community colleges and universities in 2017.
NMU is using that funding to support the “Empowering The Confidant” initiative, to train peers to respond appropriately when anyone discloses incidents of sexual misconduct.
Richard Hamilton, senior cyber defense major, helped begin this initiative to attempt to train peers in how to respond appropriately if their friends have issues with sexual misconduct. The survey includes questions about experiences they have had with either themselves or friends being victims of sexual assault and what takes place after that conversation. It infers what resources students know about, and is attempting to find out what they could use more information on.
“If we don’t get information, then we won’t know how to teach people about the resources available to them,” Hamilton said. “I would hope people will feel more comfortable if something like this arises.”
Hamilton brought his idea to the Dean of Students office, initially to make a survey about sexual harassment to see if the students knew the resources available to them.
When a student or employee is sexually harassed or assaulted, the trend shows people don’t go to staff or authorities, but rather roommates and friends. That’s why peer responses are crucial, he said.
Hamilton’s goal is to make sure students are prepared to handle the situation accordingly when it arises.
“These things do happen. No doubt about it,” Hamilton said.
The initiative also covers domestic or intimate partner violence, which is less talked about but not less of a problem.
Kate Rozeveld, community health education major, helped edit and revise the survey. The goal of the survey is to inform students of resources.
“Hopefully this will encourage more students to report their assaults.” She said.
After gathering the data from the survey, the two students will create two videos that will be shown at orientation and in freshman seminar classes.
One video will cover healthy vs. unhealthy relationships. The other will look at what people wish they had known about handling a disclosure and what they want students to know going forward.
In the fall, speaker, that has yet to be announced will come to campus to talk about healthy relationships, and will host a panel discussion later in the fall with campus officials.
“Just like any other college campus, sexual assault is prevalent here at NMU,” Rozeveld said.