MPIRG launches sexual violence survey

The study will include schools from across Minn.

by Sarah Nienaber

In the first five weeks of fall semester, sexual violence has been at the forefront of many University of Minnesota studentsâÄô minds.
ItâÄôs a topic the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group is looking to broach as it re-launches its Minnesota Gender and Sexuality Violence Study for the first time in 25 years.
After questioning how far the issue has or hasnâÄôt come in the past 25 years, MPIRG students at the University decided the only way to know was to do the survey again, said Josh Winters, executive director at MPIRG.
Twenty-five years ago the survey primarily addressed sexual violence and harassment toward women. This time around, the survey has been broadened to include gender-based sexual violence and discrimination.
The scope of this yearâÄôs survey, which launched at the University on Monday, has also broadened in that it now includes colleges across the state.
The previous survey found that victims of sexual violence needed a place to turn, and men needed more available education regarding sexual violence.
Partly because of these findings, the University created the Aurora Center, a resource center where students can learn about sexual violence and its impact.
Becky Redetzke Field, the legal advocacy and direct services coordinator at the Aurora Center, believes that in terms of resources available, the sexual violence issue is less severe now than 25 years ago.
âÄúI think that over the last 25 years some things have stayed the same, but there is a lot more openness or at least encouragement of openness,âÄù Redetzke Field said.
Redetzke Field said even if statistics show there are more people showing up at places like the Aurora Center, at least people are using the resources that are available to them.
Winters hesitated to make predictions about what the survey results will reveal.
âÄúMy sincerest hope is that we have seen some reductions,âÄù Winters said of the survey results. âÄúOf course my biggest fear is that we havenâÄôt made a whole lot of gains. Either way, itâÄôs important to know where we stand with the issue.âÄù
Each school taking part in the survey will receive results of its survey internally. Schools will be able to compare their results with the aggregated results that will be released by early January.
The survey is a random sampling of 10 percent of the student population. Participants will take a questionnaire that asks them about sexual violence, said Taylor Shultz, an MPIRG intern who has worked closely with the study.
From the comparison, colleges will be able to either be a model for schools whose results were less than desirable or learn from schools whose results were promising.
Six schools launched their studies yesterday while others are still preparing for the study. A number of other schools across the state are in the process of becoming participants in the study.