By Roma Shah and Joseph Storch

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to better understand the impact of sexual and interpersonal violence and harassment among students, requires that all colleges and universities conduct climate surveys at least every four years. (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 6 §168D). The law, which took effect in 2021, dictates that the first survey should be completed by 2025 (see MA FAQ and Guidance, p. 10, FN 3).

Institutions were helped significantly by the multi-year work of a Task Force made up of state, education, and organizational representatives. The Task Force filled in details, created a model survey, established standards for use of alternate surveys, and added key implementation points based on best practice.

At base, the survey must cover a multitude of specific areas and questions regarding student experience (MA Gen Laws 6:168D[b]), result in a summary of the results posted on the institution’s website within 120 days of survey completion and analysis (MA Gen Laws 6:168D[e]), and collect anonymous and not identifying information (MA Gen Laws 6:168D[f]).

The Task Force issued, among other things, two major guidance documents that are critical to institution implementation: a May 3, 2022 Report and a 2023 FAQ and Guidance.

Model Survey:

The Department of Higher Education promulgated a model survey, based in part, on the ARC3 survey. Use of the model survey will meet the legislative requirements and the survey questions are available free. However, institutions must conduct the survey themselves, obtain review from an Institutional Review Board (IRB), clean and analyze the data, prepare a report, and conduct all other tasks necessary to a climate survey.

Grand River Solutions Survey:

The Innovation Team behind our Climate Surveys has helped create numerous state and federal public policies to combat violence and harassment, including drafting the statutory language for the first ever state climate survey requirement. They have successfully led the development, implementation, and analysis of some of the nation’s largest academic climate surveys. Their work includes providing testimony to Congress and advice to lawmakers across party lines and among all levels of government.

The Grand River Solutions MA Sexual Misconduct Climate Survey was accepted by the Department of Higher Education on June 22, 2023 as meeting the requirements of the law. he matrix will be shared with all institutions using the survey. While the Grand River Solutions survey instrument is not free like the MA Model, Grand River Solutions conducts all elements of the process including IRB approval, creation of marketing materials, customization of the instrument specific to each institution, administering the survey, conducting the analysis, providing a comprehensive report to the institution, and conducting two briefings—one for the relevant office and another optional briefing for leadership. Grand River Solutions is proud to be currently supporting the survey needs of over two-dozen Massachusetts higher education institutions.

If you have questions about the Massachusetts Climate Survey requirements, please reach out or visit