Last spring, our campus participated in one of the most in-depth surveys regarding safety in American higher education. The Campus Attitudes Toward Safety (CATS) survey, completed by more than 24,000 of our undergraduate, graduate and professional students, provided us with extensive, rich data that we can use to make our community safer.
Reflecting over these results, I believe the most important and precious point to consider is this: each of these numbers represents a person.
Maya Angelou once said that “the ache for home lives in all of us—the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
The University of Kentucky must be such a home—a place where our students come to learn, discover and grow, without fear for their safety or from judgment.
A place where they feel a sense of belonging.
A place where the community does everything in its power to minimize the scourge of violence and sexual assault.
Our campus has been—and must continue to be—a beacon for hope. A home.
Using that idea as our compass, we will begin implementing a series of data-driven recommendations addressing personal safety on campus. Our students spoke to us; now we must use that information to undertake our most sacred trust: caring for their health and well-being.
One finding from the CATS survey that is particularly striking is that the vast majority of victims of sexual assault indicated that they did not report the incident.
As we learn more about how these incidences happen, where they happen, to whom they are reported, and why many people don’t report… each juncture will give us additional opportunities to intervene and to help.
That’s why one of the recommendations involves expanding the types and number of channels through which students can make such reports. We’ll also do more to advertise counseling and other resources to the UK community.
I was pleased to learn that the data supporting the bystander prevention model, ingrained within our Greed Dot Program, are exceptionally strong. I look forward to seeing our community continue to embrace this prevention program in a way that can further improve our campus safety climate.
We are in this tumultuous world together. And we take pride in the fact that we’ve been at the leading edge of this important campus issue for more than 10 years. We've taken a multi-faceted approach to fostering a safe and welcoming campus. This robust survey instrument is the next step in answering important questions about sexual assault, leading to more questions that help us improve and implement data-driven strategies to make progress at UK.
Of course, we don’t have all the answers. But by making this commitment, we are going to have, with each passing year, a safer campus.