By Brittney Marchand
Last semester, Juniata College sent out a survey concerning the health of their students. Not every student participated, but the survey was able to shed light on the student community.
The National College Health Assessment (NCHA) survey included information regarding alcohol and drug use, rape and sexual assault cases, mental health, and sexual orientation of the student body. This survey was especially important, as a survey of this nature had not been done since 2011.
The NCHA survey showed that, although 2/3 of Juniata students drink, they typically drink responsibly. It also had data on the number of students who are engaging in sexual activity and their safety choices therein. While numbers showed a favorable light at Juniata, there was some concerning data to be found as well.
Although the number of sexual assault and rape cases in the last few years has decreased, we are still at an alarming rate of 3.9% for sexual assault. 5% of those cases are for women who have been raped and 0% of those cases are for men who have been raped. Our total average rate for the two rates combined is 4.8%. This number is above the national average of 3.4%.
Additionally, 51.2% of students (national average 45.4%) felt that academics had been traumatic or very difficult to handle in the past year. This indicates a massive gap in students’ ability to deal with their workload or knowledge of how to do so. They may also be taking too many classes.
The NCHA survey has been a great help for Director of Student Life and Dean of Students, Matthew Damschroder. Damschroder has been working with the data to see what things need to be improved at Juniata. He also wants to see the areas that we, as a community, have done well.
The survey results will incite a few changes around campus. An increase in student fees will help fund events on weekends for the 1/ 3 of students who do not drink. Efforts will also be made to help athletes better manage their alcohol intake as they drink significantly more than non-athletes (men who are non-athletes drink 3.9 drinks on an average night, 6.5 if they are in a club sport, and 9.5 if they are on a varsity sport).
Damschroder is pleased about our progress against sexual assault, but freely admits that there is still “a long way to go.” The new Green Dot program, for example, has been crucial to making the campus more proactive instead of reactive to incidents. Damschroder is also looking at having a focus group to work on the counseling services. The focus groups would ensure that counseling services are the best that they can be for students.
Although this information is not complete, it sheds light on where we are as a campus. The survey provides an excellent starting place and hopefully we can all look for some changes in the areas we need them in. In the meantime, we should be proud of the things that the campus as a whole has done right, both in and out of the classroom.