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University Responses to Sexual Assault on Campus


Supervising Faculty Members: Elizabeth Armstrong & Sandra Levitsky

Contact: (Jesse Yeh)

Average hours of work per week:  4-8

Number of credits:  students may select to enroll in 2-3 credits of SOC394.

Number of positions available: 22

Research team meeting: Fridays 10-12pm, Sociology Library


Application Link:


Colleges and universities are experiencing new pressure to prevent sexual violence and to respond to its occurrence more effectively. In 2011 the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights indicated that it may withhold federal funds from schools that cannot create an “educational environment free from discrimination,” which includes freedom from sexual violence. In response, universities and colleges across the country reevaluated and reformulated their policies and practices around campus sexual misconduct. In November 2018 the Department of Education proposed new regulations concerning how schools must respond to sexual assault on campus. This has launched a new era of uncertainty for schools trying to respond to this issue. An overarching aim of our project is to document what changes are occurring, where, to what extent, and why. 


Before we can assess the impact of changes that will result from the proposed 2018 regulations, we need to understand what schools were doing to adjudicate cases of sexual misconduct. Undergraduate student researchers will code sexual misconduct policies and student handbooks for how schools explain their adjudication process. Over the course of the winter semester, undergraduate student researchers will code policies from approximately 400 U.S. colleges and universities. Your efforts will help us better understand the terrain of policies and practices around campus sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct.


Students will also help collect current documents (Annual Security Reports, Sexual Misconduct Policies, and Student Handbooks) to understand how universities and colleges are responding to this ambiguous and contentious policy environment .


Student Researcher Tasks and Responsibilities

The major goal for Fall 2019 is to code the adjudication processes at approximately 400 schools. You will receive links to surveys directing you to read campus policy documents and take the survey using the school’s document to answer questions. You will be coding a school with another team member. Every week, you should use your lab hours to read and code your schools. Weekly, everyone will attend a research team meeting to compare responses with their partner and validate a clean line of data. Our research team is using Qualtrics to document university adjudication processes. Qualtrics is a private research software company through which we have designed surveys specific to our project. Undergraduate students are responsible for completing surveys for each school as accurately, thoroughly, and efficiently as possible.


Each Qualtrics survey is designed to guide you through a search process for a given school. It includes detailed instructions on how to find and code data. The weekly research team meeting is mandatory.


Project Requirements

- Attend Research Team and Project Meetings.

- Complete PEERRS Certification. 

- Respond to email within 24 hours. 

- Commit to regular weekly hours and research team meeting. 

- Make every effort to input accurate and high-quality data, following instructions. 

- Have access to SLACK


- When in doubt about how to code something, post your question to Slack and bring it up at the research team meeting. There will be many cases where things are confusing. The research team may struggle to figure out how to resolve your question. We will be trying to improve the project design over the course of the semester. Your questions, confusions, suggestions, and feedback are critical to this process. 


- Attendance at the weekly meeting is mandatory. You have one excused absence.


- Let your supervisor know about any problems that come up during the semester integrating this research project with the rest of your life (e.g. illnesses, job interviews, etc.). 


- Make a reasonable effort to help your supervisor achieve the goal of completing your data collection project by the end of the semester. 


- Submit Progress Reports as requested by your graduate student supervisor. Meet with your supervisor to discuss your performance.


Minimum Qualifications:


- Interest in sociology, particularly organizations, law, social movements, gender, sexuality 


- Skill locating material on the Internet 


- Strong verbal and written communication skills 


- Attention to detail 


- Ability to respond productively to constructive feedback 


- Ability to work well in a team setting 


- Strong analytical skills 


- Ability to attend the mandatory training meetings (these will be scheduled in the first two weeks of the semester). 


- Relevant Coursework: Introduction to Sociology; Sociological Research Methods, Sociology of Law, Gender, Sexuality, Social Movements, Stats

Fill out this form and we’ll contact you about an interview.  Interviews will occur in early September.