What is the survey?

In Spring 2024, Georgetown University, along with nine other universities across the country, are participating in the Higher Education Sexual Misconduct and Awareness (HEMSA) survey. This survey, administered by the research company Westat, is an updated iteration of the 2019 Association of American Universities (AAU) Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct, which Westat also administered. Georgetown participated in the 2019 AAU survey and independently administered the same survey in 2016. Joining the 2024 survey marks our third participation in this ongoing initiative. The HESMA survey aims to help Georgetown evaluate and address issues related to sexual misconduct within our community and to gauge students’ knowledge of the support resources available to students at the university.

Why is Georgetown administering the Sexual Misconduct and Awareness (HESMA) Survey? 

The survey is designed to gather information to help inform our policies and practices for preventing and responding to sexual assault and misconduct within the Georgetown community. It is also designed to assess the incidence, prevalence, and characteristics of sexual assault and misconduct. It also assesses the overall climate of Georgetown with respect to perceptions of risk, knowledge of resources available to victims/survivors, and perceived reactions to an incident of sexual assault or misconduct.

How is the survey administered?

Westat, a private social science research firm, is administering the survey for Georgetown and eligible students will receive an email from Westat with a personal link to take the survey. Georgetown’s Office of Assessment and Decision Support (OADS) in partnership with the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer, and other key stakeholders worked with Westat to customize the survey for Georgetown. The survey is open to students from February 1 – March 15, 2024. A report on responses to the survey is expected to be shared in fall 2024.

Why should I take the survey?

Every voice is critical, regardless of whether any individual has been personally affected by sexual misconduct, and regardless of an individual’s level of knowledge on the topic.  

Why weren’t faculty and staff surveyed?

While we may consider surveying our faculty and staff on this topic in the future, in order to maintain comparability with the other schools that used the survey, this particular survey will be administered only to students.

Why are some students offered incentives?

As is standard practice in survey administration, a smaller, statistically representative sample of the student community may be offered incentives in order to encourage participation. A high response rate within that population gives us more statistically accurate data. In order to make important decisions in the future, we have to have statistically significant and strong data.

Who analyzes the data?

The data will be analyzed by data professionals at Westat as well as by professionals in the Office of Assessment and Decision Support (OADS) and the Office of the Provost at Georgetown.

Is the survey confidential?

Ensuring confidentiality is of the utmost priority. When you complete the survey, the link between your name, email, and IP address will be broken so that no one will be able to tie your responses to you. The results will be presented in summary form so no individual can be identified.

Will the results of the survey be publicly available?

Yes, survey results will be available in fall 2024. Results from both the 2019 and 2016 surveys were released and can be found here.

How were the demographic categories and other terms selected for use in the survey?

We appreciate that there is a range of accepted terminology regarding the use of terms such as victim/survivor to describe those who have experienced sexual assault, and categories for demographic information such as sexual orientation, gender/gender identity, race and ethnicity, among others, and that preferences can differ among constituents. For purposes of comparability, the wording in the survey is consistent across schools. The use or omission of certain terminology does not indicate an endorsement of any particular term over another.

Why are you asking about such sensitive topics/using such explicit language?

We recognize the graphic nature of some of the survey questions. Fully understanding the climate at Georgetown requires asking questions on sensitive topics, using direct language that some may find uncomfortable. It is important that we use clear language so that readers understand exactly what we are asking, and so that we can accurately understand the climate on campus. If you find that taking the survey is triggering for you and/or you wish to speak to a confidential resource on campus or in the community, information about confidential resources is located on the top right of each page of the survey.

Who was involved in the development and planning of this survey?

The 2024 HESMA survey, revised from the 2019 survey, was originally developed collaboratively by Westat and the AAU Survey Design Team. This team contributed insights on the survey’s framework and content, including question selection, sequencing, and other specifics. Beyond the core team, they also functioned as university advisors, channeling broader feedback via university representatives, thereby enriching the survey with diverse perspectives. Furthermore, several team members conducted preliminary tests of the draft survey with students at their universities, enhancing its development.

If I indicate on the survey that I have experienced sexual assault or sexual misconduct, does this constitute a report to the university?  Will the university identify my response or follow up with me?

Because this is a confidential survey, the university cannot link your responses to your identity. Therefore, responses to survey questions do not constitute notice to the university of Title IX prohibited conduct or other violations of university policy that would trigger a response from the university.

If you do wish to make a report, please contact the appropriate Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator listed at https://sexualassault.georgetown.edu/titleix. You can also report an incident of sexual misconduct online.

If you are unsure whether you wish to make a report, you can discuss options with one of the university’s confidential resources listed at https://sexualassault.georgetown.edu/resourcecenter/talk-with-someone.

Will the survey be accessible to students with visual and other disabilities?

This is an online survey and the survey platform is compatible with screen reader software. The appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that the survey is accessible to all students. If you have questions about the survey or have difficulty accessing it, please send an e-mail to MisconductAndAwarenessHelp@westat.com or call 1 800-230-8586.