2017 HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey

The HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey asks students about their perceptions of their campus’s climate for unwanted sexual contact and sexual assault, their perceptions of how their institution responds to sexual assaults, and whether and how often they have experienced unwanted sexual contact or sexual assault. We developed this survey to help institutions meet the requirements of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (the Clery Act) and the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act to collect and report information about crimes on campus including sexual assault. All institutions, regardless of whether they belong to HEDS, are welcome to participate.

Depending on whether students have experienced unwanted sexual contact or sexual assault, the HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey usually takes less than 15 minutes to complete. The HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey can be administered to undergraduate and graduate students 18 years of age and older. The survey is meant for students who spend a significant amount of time on campus, not for students who take their courses strictly online. 

Survey Administration 

Institutions can administer the 2017 HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey for a 3–6 week period between January 15 and April 30, 2017. To receive comparative reports, institutions must administer the survey to undergraduates from all class years.

Survey Liaison

To ensure a smooth administration process, we require that you designate one individual from your institution to serve as the survey liaison. We will direct all communication to the survey liaison. The survey liaison is responsible for submitting materials to the HEDS staff so that we can administer your survey and for contacting other people on her or his campus about the survey as necessary. We will provide additional information about these responsibilities after you register.

Administration Methods

We use an email administration method for the HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey that guarantees the anonymity of students who respond to the survey. 

A member of the HEDS staff will send your students an individualized email invitation with a unique link to the survey. If students do not complete the survey, we will send reminders via email. You may customize both the invitation and the reminders. 

To ensure consistency in the administration process and the integrity of the comparative data, as well as the anonymity of the responses, we do not allow institutions to administer any HEDS survey through their own survey engines. 

If you have any questions about the email administration method or about the role of the survey liaison, please contact Kirsten Skillrud.

Reports and Data Files

We will send the following data files and reports to participating institutions:

 HEDS institutionsInstitutions not in HEDS
SPSS and/or Microsoft Excel file with your students’ responses. (We will add values/labels to SPSS files.)
Institutional frequency report comparing your students' responses to those of students at all other participating institutions.  
Compilation of your students’ open-ended responses to the question on additional information about your institution’s climate for unwanted sexual contact and sexual assault, as well as to the question on information about other sexual assaults.
Interactive Microsoft Excel file with data on the five HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey campus climate scales: General Campus Climate, Response to Difficult or Dangerous Situations, Views on Sexual Assault at Your Institution, Views on Institutional Response to Report of Sexual Assault, and Frequency of Unwanted Sexual Contact. This interactive data file allows you to create customized comparison groups among participating HEDS institutions. This report is intended to be shared only among senior administrators.  

Please note that if you have a small number of completed surveys and/or a small number of students who report that they have experienced sexual assault, it may have an impact on the summary data that we can provide to you.

Institutions will not be able to link survey responses to individual students. The SPSS or Excel data file we send you will contain unique survey IDs that are not connected to institutional student IDs, and it will not include names, email addresses, IP addresses, location information, etc. Before we send you your institution’s data, we will review the open-ended and demographic responses and deprecate them as necessary to protect individuals’ anonymity.

We will not identify publicly the institutions that participated in the survey or that are in any comparison group in the survey reports, nor will we publish or publicly present any summaries or analyses of the survey data. All of our analyses will be shared only with institutions that participated in the survey.

All participating institutions, both HEDS institutions and institutions that do not belong to HEDS, will receive a frequency report that compares the responses of their students to the aggregated responses of students at all other institutions. This report will provide information summarizing the characteristics of the institutions in the comparison group, but it will not identify the schools that are in the comparison group. If we have at least five institutions in different Carnegie Classes, or groups of schools that differ significantly in size or selectivity, we may create additional comparison groups for this report. Institutions are allowed to share and disseminate these frequency reports as they see fit.

As a benefit of consortium membership, all HEDS institutions that participate in this survey will also receive a report with unmasked, aggregated, institution-level data from other HEDS institutions that participated in the survey. In sharing data from these reports, HEDS institutions shall follow the HEDS Statement of Understandings. Specifically, "HEDS members agree that they will use these data . . . only for their own internal planning and management, and not for external publication.” Furthermore, the Statement calls for institutions to use discretion in sharing unmasked data from other HEDS institutions on campus. 

Given the sensitive nature of the information in this survey, the HEDS Consortium office and HEDS institutions will follow a different set of rules from what we normally do when we disseminate and share data. Specifically:

  • We will not identify participating HEDS institutions by name to any person or organization outside of the consortium.
  • In any public presentations or dissemination of data from the survey on or off campus, HEDS institutions must not identify other HEDS institutions that participated in the survey or display the data from any single HEDS institution, even if that institution is not identified. In these settings, HEDS institutions should only present pooled data from other HEDS institutions or other comparison groups that contain at least five institutions.
  • In deciding how to share HEDS peer data from this survey on campus, the HEDS primary contact agrees to do two things. First, the primary contact will be responsible for working with the senior leaders at her or his institution to identify the people on campus who need to see HEDS peer institutional data in order to respond effectively to the survey findings. Second, the primary contact and senior leaders will ensure that everyone who has access to HEDS peer data recognizes and accepts their obligation to prevent any public disclosure of participating institutions’ identities and data.
  • Finally, unlike with other HEDS surveys, HEDS institutions participating in this survey will not receive individual-level data from other HEDS institutions. Instead, they will receive only their own student-level data, which we will deprecate to preserve the anonymity of individual students.

Other HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey Information

  • IRB approval – The Wabash College IRB found the survey to be exempt from IRB review because it is not “research” according to the definition provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services—i.e., “systematic investigation, including research development, testing, and evaluation, designed to develop or contribute to generalized knowledge.” You can find the letter from the Wabash College IRB here. We encourage your institution’s survey liaison to contact the IRB at your institution to determine whether their approval is needed prior to administering the survey.
  • No mandatory participation  Institutions should not make the survey mandatory or use survey incentives that may affect voluntary participation. In addition, the introduction to the HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey, which informs participants that the survey is voluntary, cannot be altered.
    Students may choose not to answer any question in the survey. Furthermore, they may stop taking the survey at any time and choose not to submit their data. This means that we will only keep survey responses once students click the “submit” button at the end of the survey, and we will not keep partial responses. We have done this to ensure that students have complete control over whether and when they submit data.
  • Increasing participation rates – We will send survey liaisons weekly updates on response rates during the survey administration period so they can monitor survey participation. Increasing your participation rate on this survey can be challenging since the survey is anonymous and sensitive. Institutions have increased their participation rates by doing the following:
    • Having invitation and reminder emails come from a respected and easily recognized person on campus (e.g., the president, the provost, a well-known professor, etc.).
    • Talking about the importance of the survey on campus (e.g., asking professors to mention the survey during class or having someone write an article about the survey for the student newspaper).
    • Asking student groups to publicly support the survey and ask that their peers participate.
    • Publicly discussing how you have used these data in the past or your plans for using the data from this survey.
    • Awarding incentives in a way that does not allow you to connect surveys to participating students. For example, we can add a HEDS-generated, unique code to the end-of-survey message that students can use to redeem prizes or use as coupons. Institutions have also made donations to charitable organizations based on survey participation, so that higher participation rates resulted in a higher donation.
  • Embedding institution names in the survey – We have designed the survey so that an institution’s name will appear in text and questions throughout the survey. When you register for the survey, we will ask you to provide the name of your institution as you would like it to appear in the survey. The format of your institution’s name will be the same throughout the survey; we cannot customize the way your institution’s name appears in different sections.
  • Supplemental questions – Due to the sensitive nature of this survey, we only allow institutions to add supplemental questions to meet state/legislative reporting requirements.
  • Providing campus and local resources for unwanted sexual contact, sexual assault, and relationship violence – Survey liaisons will send contact information for campus and local resources for sexual assault and relationship violence to a member of the HEDS staff. We will include this information in the survey so that students who participate can get support. Institutions may provide information about as many campus and local resources as they wish, including letting students know how to report past incidents of sexual assault. We will provide a link to a webpage with institution-specific and national resources for sexual assault and relationship violence on every page of the survey so that students may access the information without completing the survey. We will also show the information about resources for sexual assault and relationship violence at the end of the survey.
  • Administering the survey to certain class years – Because rates of unwanted sexual contact and sexual assault vary by class year, institutions must administer the HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey to undergraduate students from all class years (either a census sample or a representative sample from all class years) in order to receive comparative data. If you wish to administer this survey to a select group of students (e.g., only seniors), you may do so, but you will only receive your own student-level data file, without any reports or comparison information.
  • Survey map – We created a chart to show the different directions the survey logic can take depending on an individual student's answers. You can view this map here.


The table below provides the fees for the 2017 administration of the HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey. There are two payment options on the registration form. You can choose to receive an invoice and pay with a check, or you can pay at the time of registration with your credit card. We send out invoices at the end of the month in which an institution registers to participate in the survey.

 HEDS institutionsInstitutions not in HEDS
Base administration cost
  • One 3–6 week survey administration
  • Email administration method
  • Up to 1,000 responses
  • One survey invitation and up to three reminders 
  • Reports and data files as described above
$500 $1,600

Additional responses (after first 1,000 responses; count includes incomplete and duplicate responses)

Additional response charges are invoiced after the survey closes and are separate from fees charged at registration. We will send data files and reports after an institution has paid its invoice.

+$1.00 per extra response (including incomplete and duplicate responses) +$1.00 per extra response (including incomplete and duplicate responses)
Late registration fee (see explanation in registration section below) + $250 + $250

You may request unique invitations, reminders, etc., for different subsamples (for example, for students in different class years). However, due to the additional labor such requests require, we will treat the surveys for each subsample as separate surveys and the full survey price will apply to each one.

If your institution has multiple campuses and you wish to administer the survey to more than one campus and identify which students came from which campus, you have three options: 

  • For $100, we will add a question at the start of the survey that asks students what campus they are from. We will send you one set of reports that combines data from your different campuses and one data file with the campus ID variable so that you can analyze and report on each campus separately.
  • For $250 per campus, we will add a question at the start of the survey that asks students what campus they are from. We will send you one data file for each campus and one set of reports for each campus.
  • For $500 per member survey or $1,600 per survey for an institution that is not a member of HEDS, we will create a separate survey for each campus. With this approach, you can create different invitation and reminder messages for each campus. We will send you one data file per campus and one set of reports for each campus.

Registering for the HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey

You can register for the 2017 HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey via the online registration form. At the time of registration, you may choose to pay with a credit card or receive an invoice and pay with a check. We send out invoices at the end of the month in which you register.

You must register at least 3 weeks prior to the date on which you plan to begin administering the survey. We will make decisions about accepting late registrations on a case-by-case basis. If we can accommodate a late registration, we will charge an additional $250 late fee.

HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey Administration Contact

Please contact Kirsten Skillrud (also at 765-361-6170) if you have any questions about administering the HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey.

The HEDS Consortium supports the efforts of colleges and universities to prevent sexual assault, to help victims of sexual assault, and to ensure safe campus environments for all students. We will make a donation to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, for every institution that participates in the 2017 HEDS Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey.