There’s a survey you should take, and no, it’s not for my statistics class.
If you haven’t heard of the My Voice Survey, you haven’t been opening your emails. As someone with an overflowing inbox, this is a CALmessage you should not ignore. Over the past seven months, a team of advocates, students, data analysts, faculty and staff has been developing this survey in consultation with a range of stakeholders to better understand how sexual violence and harassment affects our campus community. Now, the survey is here, and as a member of this team, believe me when I say we need you.
In order to meaningfully make our campus safer for all, we must understand its own unique challenges and culture — something we just can’t do without you. Unlike national surveys that report on average incident rates, this survey is the first time we’ll have Berkeley-specific data, and that is powerful.
In my four years trying to advocate for students and make policy changes on this campus, I have learned how influential data-backed stories are to the decision makers around us. Not only will this survey importantly document our experiences, it will become an invaluable tool in affecting meaningful change. By participating, you will be a part of moving the mountains of Berkeley’s bureaucracy, shifting the culture and norms of this campus and working towards a safer community for everyone.
Also for the first time in UC Berkeley’s history of surveys, students, staff and faculty are all asked to participate. Attitudes and acts of sexual violence and sexual harassment are not isolated to any one community, department or space on campus. In order for all intersections of campus life to be fully represented in this data, we must collectively commit to telling our stories and encouraging our communities to do the same.
For those that hesitate to take the survey, whether it’s because you may have never felt unsafe on campus or because you have and telling your story might be difficult, I hear you. For those who think they have nothing to report, know that a wide range of experiences will only strengthen this survey and that we believe all UC Berkeley community members have stories to tell. For those deciding whether or not to share a difficult experience, it might be helpful to know that the survey can be stopped and restarted at any point and that there are resources along the way if you could use support. For those concerned about sharing personal information, know that UC Berkeley will never know our identities and that by using a third-party survey firm, all information shared will be objective and non-identifying.
This survey is for the people that go to class or don’t; the people conducting research and teaching; the people who take care of and run our campus. It’s for the people that might have seen something or heard something and weren’t completely sure if they should say something. It’s also for the people that did. This survey is even for those who haven’t been unsafe at all. It’s for the people who said #MeToo and for those who were surprised. This survey is for the people who experienced something that didn’t feel right. This survey is for you.
My Voice is more than data collection — this is a movement. Take the survey and be a part of something powerful.
Jillian Free is a senior at UC Berkeley and the ASUC Student Advocate.