Sensitive survey asks if students feel safe

In an attempt to gain insight on student safety on campus, Washington State University’s Office of the President is funding a student personal safety survey, which will be administered to WSU students through the end of April.

The survey, which is the first comprehensive survey distributed at WSU on the topic of safety, is spearheaded by Samantha Swindell, a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, and Gretal Leibnitz, an administrator for the Health Promotion Unit of Health and Wellness Services.

“We want a student perception of safety on campus,” Leibnitz said. “The survey is a response to student interest, and it shows that the university does care and wants to do something to help.”

The survey, which will take an average of 15 minutes, will be administered at WSU campuses across the state and will be based on a stratified random sample of WSU students. This means that students will be broken up into groups such as age, sex and race, and then contacted randomly within those groups. The survey method is to ensure that a representative sample of the school is collected, Swindell said.

Once the results are collected and analyzed, efforts may be taken to increase safety on campus if the survey shows a perceived need.

“My hope would be that we use this information to create a campus culture where people feel safe and free to speak about these issues,” Leibnitz said.

Because of the sensitive nature of the survey, which includes questions on sexual assault and dating violence, the survey will be administered on the Internet to ensure that students can respond with confidentiality, said Tom Brigham, psychology professor and special assistant to the president. Furthermore, Swindell and Leibnitz want staff and faculty to be aware that the survey is occurring so they can be willing and ready to answer questions and concerns that participants may have.

For more information or support on sexual assault/dating violence, contact Counseling Services at 335-4511 or go to the Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Task Force website at

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