- Added by St.2020, c.337, § 1, effective August 1, 2021
For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
“Institution”, a public or independent institution of higher education located in the commonwealth and authorized to grant degrees pursuant to any general or special law.
“Sexual misconduct”, an incident of sexual violence, dating violence, domestic violence, gender-based violence, violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, sexual assault, sexual harassment or stalking.
(1) Each institution shall conduct a sexual misconduct climate survey of all students at the institution not less than once every 4 years.
(2) The sexual misconduct climate surveys shall gather information on topics including, but not limited to: (i) the number of reported and unreported incidents of sexual misconduct at the institution; (ii) when and where incidents of sexual misconduct occurred; (iii) student awareness of institutional policies and procedures related to campus sexual misconduct; (iv) whether a student reported the sexual misconduct and, if so, to which campus resource the report was made; (v) whether a student was informed of or referred to local, state, campus or other resources or victim support services, including appropriate medical care and legal services; (vi) whether a student was provided with information about resources for protection from retaliation, access to school-based supportive measures and civil justice and criminal justice remedies; (vii) contextual factors, such as whether the incident of sexual misconduct involved force, incapacitation or coercion; (viii) demographic information that could be used to identify at-risk groups; and (ix) perceptions of campus safety among members of the campus community and confidence in the institution’s ability to protect against and respond to incidents of sexual misconduct.
There shall be a task force on sexual misconduct surveys. The task force shall consist of: the commissioner of higher education or a designee, who shall serve as co-chair; the commissioner of public health or a designee, who shall serve as co-chair; the secretary of public safety and security or a designee; the attorney general or a designee; 1 member of the house of representatives to be appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives; 1 member of the senate to be appointed by the senate president; and 21 persons to be appointed by the governor, 1 of whom shall be a student attending a community college, 1 of whom shall be a student attending a public university, 2 of whom shall be students attending an independent institution of higher education in the commonwealth, 1 of whom shall be a representative of the University of Massachusetts recommended by the president of the university, 1 of whom shall be a representative of the state universities recommended by the Massachusetts State Colleges Council of Presidents, 1 of whom shall be a representative of community colleges recommended by the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges, 2 of whom shall be representatives of private colleges and universities recommended by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts, Inc., 1 of whom shall be a representative recommended by Jane Doe, Inc.: the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault And Domestic Violence, 1 of whom shall be a representative recommended by the Victim Rights Law Center, Inc., 2 of whom shall be representatives recommended by sexual assault crisis service centers and counseling centers located in an urban and rural region of the commonwealth, 2 of whom shall be representatives recommended by community-based sexual assault crisis service centers funded by the department of public health, 1 of whom shall be a representative recommended by the Massachusetts commission on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth, 1 of whom shall be a representative recommended by the Every Voice Coalition or any successor organization, 2 of whom shall be researchers with experience in the development and design of sexual misconduct climate surveys and 2 of whom who shall have experience in higher education survey analysis and be researchers of: (i) statistics; (ii) data analytics; or (iii) econometrics. Membership on the task shall be reflective of the gender, racial and geographic diversity of the commonwealth and preference shall be given to those with background, education and experience in the fields of public health, survey design or Title IX.
(1) The task force shall develop model questions for use by institutions in sexual misconduct climate surveys. The task force shall provide the model questions to the commissioner of higher education with related recommendations respecting the content, timing and application of the surveys. The recommendations shall include, but not be limited to, recommendations on achieving statistically valid response rates and on addressing non-response bias.
(2) The sexual misconduct climate survey model questions shall include a subset of questions taken from or consistent with questions in the Administrator-Researcher Campus Climate Collaborative survey or another sexual misconduct climate survey that is currently in use by institutions and that the task force deems high-quality. The subset of model questions shall generate responses related to topics including, but not limited to: (i) the prevalence of sexual misconduct on campus; (ii) student knowledge of and familiarity with campus practices for reporting and addressing sexual misconduct; and (iii) services available to victims of sexual misconduct.
(3) In developing the sexual misconduct climate survey model questions, the task force shall: (i) utilize best practices from peer-reviewed research and consult with individuals with expertise in the development and use of sexual misconduct climate surveys by institutions of higher education; (ii) review sexual misconduct climate surveys that have been developed and previously utilized by institutions of higher education; (iii) provide opportunities for written comment from organizations that work directly with survivors of sexual misconduct to align questions with a trauma-informed approach and to ensure the adequacy and appropriateness of the proposed content; (iv) consult with institutions of higher education on strategies for optimizing the effectiveness of the survey; (v) provide opportunities for written comment from advocates to ensure that the survey impartially addresses campus sexual misconduct; and (vi) account for the diverse needs of and differences between the commonwealth’s institutions of higher education.
(4) The commissioner of higher education shall review and approve the sexual misconduct climate survey model questions provided by the task force and shall periodically review and make recommendations for changes to the model questions and to the content and timing of the sexual misconduct climate surveys. In addition, the task force may be revived at any time by the commissioner. The commissioner shall provide a copy of the model questions to all institutions; provided, however, that an institution may develop and use its own campus-specific survey if the survey: (i) is designed to provide the institution with data to inform policies to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct; (ii) meets quality standards determined by the commissioner; and (iii) includes the subset of model questions described in paragraph (2).
Within 120 days after completion and analysis of a sexual misconduct climate survey, each institution shall post a summary of the results on the institution’s website.
A sexual misconduct climate survey, including any campus-specific surveys developed and implemented by an institution, shall collect anonymous responses and shall prohibit the disclosure of identifying information.
The department of higher education shall promulgate regulations necessary to implement this section.
|Last updated:||January 12, 2021|