Results of Climate Survey Hit Campus

Walking around campus on Wednesday, there was an undeniable air of tension and anticipation from all the students. As a freshman, I had heard bits and pieces about the climate survey. I wasn’t here to voice my experiences, but I am here to be a part of the conversation. Taken in the spring of 2017, I hadn’t even known that I would be attending Tulane at the time that students were revealing the shocking truth about a horrifying reality of Tulane’s student life. But on  January 31st, even I was aware of the severity of the message being delivered at President Fitts’ town hall, which was conveniently scheduled a few days after applications for high school seniors had closed.

The climate survey is an effort to combat sexual misconduct on campus. A series of questions were asked of students about their personal experiences with sexual violence and harassment. The results served to magnify an issue that many never speak about or ask about, making it easy for some to cast the issue aside and simply not think about it. But the culture of date rape, unwanted advances, and harassment will never change unless we acknowledge what’s happening, and take the measures to fix it.

Sexual assault is a difficult issue to talk about. In no way is it easy to open up about personal experiences with abuse- it is an ordeal that people struggle with for years past the incident itself. However, Tulane students are speaking up. Nearly half of the student population (47%) answered the survey. The turnout signifies that the Tulane community is serious about bringing this issue to light, and forcing the administration to take a stand in eliminating sexual assault on college campuses.

The results on the other hand, are nothing short of horrific. 41% of women and 18% of men on Tulane’s campus report to having been victims of sexual assault. Two in five women. The national rate for college students is one in five, according to the Association of American Universities. Tulane’s rates are among the highest in the nation, matching up with the results from Duke University, where 40% of women reported being victims. These results prove that sexual harassment is a serious problem on campus. If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.

The surveys have been taken, results released, and the dialogue has begun. However, it is imperative that moving forward, we take it upon ourselves to keep the conversation going. Oftentimes, an issue will spark three weeks of activism and dedication, only to be overshadowed by the next Kardashian pregnancy (we see you, Kylie) or awards show drama. The sheer amount of students filling out the survey shows that the campus is active in addressing social issues such as this one. It’s on us, but it’s also on the administration.

The town hall ended with a heated and hostile question and answer portion, where the administration was grilled about their strategy moving forward. Vague answers and dancing around the issues were a common trend, but there are concrete things that we can work towards as a community. One of these being the expansion of Title IX at Tulane. Our school has one coordinator, whereas other schools have an entire office dedicated to sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Take the newest fundraising campaign, “Only the Audacious”- will the millions of dollars raised be put towards more advertising and promotional campaigns to get students to visit campus? Or will it go to research and initiatives so that students can actually feel safe on campus? Keep up with the priorities of our administration; don’t let this issue be something that gets covered up and shoved aside so that we can maintain a happy, bubbly, and peppy reputation. The problems are on the table, now it’s time to fix them.

If there’s one thing that you remember from your internet browsing today, please let it be this: sexual assault is still a major issue. Yes, we are making strides. Yes, it’s finally being talked about. However, that is only the beginning. Don’t forget about this in two weeks when the initial hype dies down, because forgetting about the issue only perpetrates a relentless cycle in which this behavior continues, and is normalized.

Together, we must move forward.