by Rose Brennan & Katie Heneghan, A&E Editor & Asst. Features Editor
Beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 19, students were prompted with a short and anonymous survey regarding feedback on student perception of Manhattan College’s climate on unwanted sexual contact and assault, as well as students’ perceptions of how Manhattan College addresses and responds to these situations.
The survey was sent out by Sheetal Kale, the Director of Diversity, Equity, and the Chief Title IX Coordinator in collaboration with the office of the Dean of Students, Human Resources, and Student Engagement.
The goal of the survey is to assess and address the concerns and needs of students regarding this topic. It was sent out to all students in hope to get a wide range of voices on the issues.
“I hope to get an accurate, wide-ranging, and honest perspective of the Title IX process here at the College in order to be more responsive to student needs and concerns, as well as make the College a more inclusive and safer space for all who attend,” said Kale in an e-mail statement..
Some of the questions prompted in the survey are mandated by New York State and federal law in order to gauge the needs and concerns of students. These questions are in accordance with the laws known as Title IX and 129-B, which is its New York State equivalent.
“The other [questions] were formulated by me in order to gain feedback regarding the process from a campus specific perspective based on questions and concerns I’ve heard from students here at the college,” Kale said.
Lindsey Lopez, Assistant Title IX Director for the college stressed that despite promotion, the college is having a difficult time getting a wide range of student responses on the issue.
“It’s been really low so far. It was only about 300 or so students in the first week,” said Lopez.
Kale and Lopez have been working with Student Engagement to offer student incentives to take the survey. By taking the survey, students are entered into a raffle for a chance to win a meet and greet with this year’s Springfest artists.
Student responses have ranged across classes. Freshman Alana Pons is one of the students who took the survey.
“I think it’s a worthy thing to do, not only for yourself, but for others,” Pons said. “It doesn’t take long and the results are used to help people on campus so it’s worth it. If my input will make campus safer, I’ll use a platform such as this survey to voice what I have to say.”
Reilly Love Rebhahn is a senior student at the college, and is also a student worker at the Lasallian Women and Gender Resource Center. She completed the survey early on in the process, and had both praise and constructive criticism in response to it.
“I think that the survey was good, in that it wasn’t too wordy,” Rebhahn said. “There was a little bit of room for you to read things through the context of what maybe you’ve experienced and what you know. It didn’t give you very explicit, specific scenarios that you had to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to.”
“I think that it was long enough that whatever specifically they were trying to find, they could do with the amount of vague wording throughout,” she said.
While Rebhahn was satisfied with the survey generally, she still recognized areas where it could be improved.
“I wish that there had been a little bit more accountability that Manhattan College has not always done the best at these things, but that they’re trying to get better, and that’s why they … do these climate surveys. I would have liked a little bit more humility,” Rebhahn said.
“I think that they could have talked a little bit more to transgender identities and to queer identities. It did seem heteronormative, so I would say that was a problem with the language. It was geared towards heteronormative, cisgender experiences. So maybe some transgender language, some queer language, would be truly more inclusive in the future for their surveys,” she said.
The survey will remain open for student responses until Tuesday, March 19.