With Us, The National Network for Peer Accountability at Cal Poly, is preparing to hone in on rates of sexual assault and intimate partner violence, discrimination, hazing and abuse of drugs and alcohol at Cal Poly with a new student survey.

With Us was established at Cal Poly in February with the mission of “empowering peer-led movements of proactive bystander intervention,” according to withus.org.

The program is designed to expand the scope of Aware Awake Alive, a national non-profit organization created by Scott and Julia Starkey to prevent alcohol abuse after their son died during a hazing incident at Cal Poly in 2008.

The ultimate goal of With Us is to create safer campus communities through peer accountability, according to With Us coordinator Michael Eberhard.

“With Us is dedicated to bystander intervention research and program development that can benefit college students on campuses across the U.S,” Eberhard said in an email to Mustang News. “This research center is based here, but like many of the other campus-based research initiatives at Cal Poly, and at other universities, we intend for the work we do to have far-reaching implications.” 

Lead researcher and assistant professor Dr. Christine Hackman explained the importance of conducting a survey that will provide baseline data in order to make With Us an effective program,

“One thing we want to do is provide baseline data to say this is where we are right now, and hopefully in the future we can say this is how far we’ve come with new data,” Hackman said.  

Hackman has experience in conducting research on sexual assault and gender-based violence and also teaches courses on evidence-based programs. She said the survey has been in the works for around 8 months now.

Cal Poly faculty, staff and students have contributed to designing the survey, along with advising and consultation from external partners, according to Eberhard.

The survey is scheduled to take place during winter quarter and will be randomized and stratified by class level. Randomly selected students will be able to choose whether or not they participate in the survey. With Us is also offering all CSU’s the opportunity to have their students participate in the survey. All student responses will be anonymous.  

“This survey is unique, there isn’t really anything like it out there that looks at the scope that we’re doing, and the behavior we’re looking at,” Hackman said.

In “Learn by Doing” fashion, eight students taking Statistics 421: Survey Sampling and Methodology, will have the opportunity to take part in finalizing the survey while working alongside the With Us team.

“We really are taking our time and consulting with people, not only experts in survey design,” Hackman said. “We’re also getting students’ feedback so we can make the best survey.”

Statistics junior Robert Goebel is currently enrolled in Statistics 421 and said he looks forward to having the opportunity to work on the With Us survey.

“This project allows me to discover which parts of survey design and methodology I already know and which parts I need to work on, and it provides me with a way to use what I’ve learned to make a difference in the real world,” Goebel said.

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