Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



PNAS, October 6, 2020, vol. 117, no. 40, pp 24606–24608



Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY).


Surveying a campus community about sexual harassment can be a daunting task during normal times. It’s especially daunting during a pandemic. Institutional leaders may balk at committing scarce resources to survey efforts. Some may wonder how to interpret results that look dramatically different from prior assessments. Also, they may worry about adding to the burdens of already stressed staff, faculty, and students. Indeed, these concerns and complexities came up recently within the work of the National Academies’ Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education (1).

For the reasons outlined above, sexual harassment surveys should continue in higher education, even during a pandemic. Surveys should follow the best practices reviewed in chapter 2 of the National Academies report (2). Doing so includes the use of scientifically informed tools to assess sexual harassment and its sequelae, such as those found in the Administrator Researcher Campus Climate Collaborative (ARC3) Survey [a free survey that includes the best-validated instruments available for assessing sexual harassment and violence (15–17)]. Several adjustments are in order, though, to ensure reasonable response rates and high-quality data.