Taking Stock of the Survey – Advantages and Challenges of a National Climate Survey

Taking Stock of the Survey – Advantages and Challenges of a National Climate Survey
May 9, 2022 admin

A National Climate Survey Requirement 

The 2022 federal Omnibus legislation1 included a new requirement that the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) develop and administer a climate survey of college student experiences with domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and stalking at all colleges and universities that accept federal funds. 

This lofty goal may prove challenging, however. The actual timeline of the development and administration of the survey is unclear. The Department must assemble specialists to research, develop the survey, provide an opportunity for institutions to add customized questions to the survey, create or purchase a tool to collect or assist institutions in collecting millions of responses, analyze the results, produce individualized data sets to each institution, and produce a national report. 

Consider the scale and frequency of the federal survey project. The Department’s campus climate survey promises to become the second largest survey conducted by the federal government—reaching 20 million students at well over 5,000 colleges and universities every other year. Only the U.S. Census is larger, and the Census requires more than 4,000 employees at the Census Bureau to successfully implement every ten years. Furthermore, the Omnibus legislation requires the Department to create a substantial report by 2024 (and every two years thereafter) on the data collected by the survey. 

Members of Congress have considered different forms of a national climate survey for many years. However, this provision became public merely days before the House and Senate passed the legislation and the President signed it into law. Reaching the lofty goal may require a considerable amount of funding, personnel, and detailed planning, both at the Department and at individual institutions. 

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