Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Background Information

  • Why is the University of Michigan conducting a Campus Climate Survey Related to Sex and Gender?
    Climate surveys have long been identified as a best practice for universities to better understand sexual harassment and misconduct on their campuses. As such, the university maintains a regular cadence of climate surveying. The 2024 Campus Climate Survey Related to Sex and Gender assesses how the prevalent sexual harassment and misconduct is for our students, staff, and faculty, along with perceptions of these issues on our campuses, and awareness of campus responses and resources.

    Research shows that thriving campus climates directly contribute to the overall wellbeing and success for students, staff and faculty. Information gathered in this survey will help us better understand how members of our university communities experience the university climate, including the ways it is impacted by sexual harassment and misconduct, and how healthier campus community climates can be supported with prevention and response efforts.
  • Who is Rankin Climate and why were they contracted to administer this survey?
    Rankin Climate is an external and independent campus climate assessment firm. Best practice indicates the need for third party expertise in conducting climate surveys so that participants can feel confident about the integrity of the surveying process and the confidentiality of their responses. This results in higher response rates and more credible findings. With over 20 years of experience, Rankin Climate has done climate assessment using the ARC3 with more than 250 universities nationwide.
  • Did the Institutional Review Board (IRB) review the survey protocol?
    The ARC3 Campus Climate Survey Related to Sex and Gender survey instrument and protocol were reviewed by the University of Michigan’s IRB.The application was given a “Not Regulated” determination, which means the IRB determined the survey was not human subjects research and, therefore, no IRB approval or oversight is required. The IRB considered the survey to be “Not Regulated” because it is a quality assurance and quality improvement activity with the intent of improving university services or programs.


Survey Questions

  • How was the ARC3 survey instrument developed?
    The Administrator-Researcher Campus Climate Collaborative (ARC3) survey instrument was developed by a collaborative composed of leading researchers and higher education professionals in response to a 2014 White House Task Force Report1 which considered rates of sexual violence on college campuses in the United States and set forth action steps and recommendations, including conducting regular campus climate assessments.

    The questions asked in this survey are intended to support a comprehensive understanding of the campus climate related to sex and gender, including with regards to sexual harassment and misconduct.

    The survey has been widely used by colleges and universities in the U.S. as well as internationally. It has been implemented at the state level in university systems in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington and has also been used by the national university systems of Denmark and Ireland.

    1 White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Violence, Not Alone, April 2014, 1-23.
  • Why do some demographic questions contain a very large number of response options?
    In campus climate research it is important for survey participants to “see” themselves in response choices to prevent “othering” an individual or an individual’s characteristics. Some researchers maintain that assigning someone to the status of “other” is a form of marginalization and should be minimized, particularly in campus climate research which has an intended purpose of inclusiveness.

    Along these lines, survey respondents will see a long list of possible choices for many demographic questions. However, it is reasonably impossible to include every possible choice to every question, but the goal is to reduce the number of respondents who must choose “other.”


  • What survey methodology is being used for the Campus Climate Survey Related to Sex and Gender?
    A stratified representative sample of undergraduate students, graduate students, staff, and faculty on each campus at the University of Michigan including Michigan Medicine will receive an email invitation to complete the survey. Sample surveying is widely recognized as the gold standard for collecting comprehensive reliable information representing the range of campus experiences1. For a system-wide survey assessing experiences on a number of different campuses a high-quality stratified sample approach achieves the following:

    • Assessment of representation of the varied experiences and perceptions of campus populations. This is because certain demographic groups are both over-represented within our campus communities and more likely to respond to an invitation to participate in a survey resulting in a particular demographic of experiences becoming the dominant narrative in survey findings. Sample survey methodology improves the reliability of the findings.
    • More accurate representation of the rich contextual nuances of different campuses within a large university system so that differences are both accounted for and findings are comparable across the system — comparisons that can only be made if the same methodology is used to collect data on each campus.

    1Daniel, J. (2012). Choosing between taking a census and sampling. In Sampling Essentials: Practical Guidelines for Making Sampling Choices (pp. 23-65). SAGE Publications, Inc., ↩︎


  • Who is being invited to take this survey?
    A representative sample of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff on each campus at the University of Michigan and Michigan Medicine will be randomly selected to complete the survey. 

    An effective stratified sampling design incentivizes participants to complete the survey with some form of compensation. It is important to adequately incentivize survey participants; not doing so leads to low response rates, biased survey results, and an inability to calculate key estimates at a unit level. The current best practice is to offer compensation that corresponds with $1/minute. Because the survey takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, each person who returns a completed survey is offered a $15 Visa gift card.

    Students, staff, and faculty who were not randomly selected to be part of the survey sample were able to contribute to the campus climate assessment using an anonymous feedback questionnaire accessed via a link on this webpage. Responses to this questionnaire were submitted directly to Rankin Climate, the independent who facilitated the survey to anonymize and de-identify the responses.
  • How will I know if I have been selected to participate in the survey?
    Individuals who are randomly identified to be part of the stratified sample will receive an email invitation to participate from Rankin Climate through their University of Michigan email address. Automated reminders will also be generated from Rankin Climate. Toward the end of the survey process, text messages will also be sent to remind individuals who have not yet participated to do so. Automated reminders to participate will continue to automatically be generated until a completed survey is submitted through the end of the survey campaign.

Privacy and Confidentiality

  • How is participant confidentiality protected?
    Confidentiality is vital to successful climate studies particularly as matters of personal sensitivity are assessed. Rankin Climate, the independent firm facilitating the survey, will be the only party with access to the anonymized raw data. Their data security procedures take multiple precautionary measures to enhance individual confidentiality of the de-identified data. No data already protected through regulation or policy (e.g., Social Security number, campus identification number, medical information) is obtained through the survey. In the event of any publication or presentation resulting from the assessment, no personally identifiable information will be shared.

    Participant confidentiality will be maintained to the highest degree permitted by the technology used (e.g., IP addresses will be stripped when the survey is submitted). No guarantees can be made regarding the interception of data sent via the internet by any third parties; however, to avoid interception of data, the survey is run on a firewalled web server with forced 256-bit SSL security. In addition, the consultant and the university  will not report any group data for groups of fewer than five individuals, because those “small cell sizes” may be small enough to compromise confidentiality. Instead, the consultant and the university will combine the groups or take other measures to eliminate any potential for demographic information to be identifiable. Additionally, any comments submitted in response to the survey will be separated at the time of submission to Rankin Climate so they are not attributed to any individual demographic characteristics. Identifiable information submitted in qualitative comments will be redacted and the university will only receive these redacted comments.Information in the introductory section of the survey will describe the manner in which confidentiality will be guaranteed.
  • What information is included in the sample directory that Rankin Climate uses to recruit survey participants?
    The sample directory that Rankin Climate uses to facilitate recruitment through email and text messages includes name, University of Michigan email address, cell phone number if available, and student or employee position. Eligible community members receive an introductory invitation email directly from Rankin with a personalized link to their survey along with scheduled follow up emails in accordance with institutional policy and regulations governing human subjects research, and with the guidance of The University of Michigan Office of General Counsel (OGC). Beginning in survey weeks three through the end of the survey, eligible community members who have not yet submitted a complete survey also receive text messages.
  • What protections are in place for data storage, including for future secondary use?
    Rankin Climate uses a research data security description and protocol, which includes specific information on data encryption, the handling of personally identifiable information, physical security, and a protocol for handling unlikely breaches of data security. The data from online participants will be submitted to a secure server hosted by the consultant. The SaaS hosting platforms are SOC2. The firewall is via Next-Gen Fortigate Firewall. Data is stored in a SQL database which can only be accessed by VPN via authorized personnel only. Our encryption for communication is via HTTPS TLS 1.2. Rankin Climate associates working on the project will have access to the raw data. All Rankin Climate analysts have CITI (Human Subjects) training and approval and have worked on similar projects for other institutions. The server performs an hourly and daily backup and stores the backup on a separate context offsite for safety.

    Data from the 2024 University of Michigan administration of the ARC3 Campus Climate Survey Related to Sex and Gender will contribute to a merged database of anonymized aggregate data from more than 250 other institutions who have also contracted with Rankin Climate to administer the ARC3. Data is maintained by Rankin Climate on a secure server. No institutional identifiers are included in the full merged data set held by the consultant. The raw unit-level data with institutional identifiers is kept on the server for six months and then destroyed.

    Rankin Climate will provide the primary investigator with a data file at the completion of the project.


  • What will the findings be used for?
    The data from the Campus Climate Survey Related to Sex and Gender will be used to further university efforts around sexual harassment and misconduct prevention and response.

    The data will not be used for generalizable research or participation. However, other universities who also administer the ARC3 may use the data for benchmarking purposes.