The Alpha Lambda Chapter at the University of Florida (UF) worked on the Personal Safety On Campus project that aimed to explore students’ perceptions of their safety while on campus during the 2012-2013 academic year. Preliminary research narrowed the campaign focus and brought attention to a possible need on campus. As part of the formative research, a cross-sectional survey design served as the primary needs assessment, and was developed, administered, and gathered by chapter members (the researchers). Analysis of the initial data facilitated the need to collect more qualitative data to further explore students’ specific concerns regarding their safety on campus, as well as determine which safety measures (currently available to students) are utilized.
A small group of ESG members worked to complete the IRB protocol form and informed consent. The interview guide was also developed by this group and submitted to IRB, along with the other materials, for approval. Once IRB approval was achieved, active recruitment of student participants through best-practice recruitment strategies enabled researchers to host a series of focus groups gaining insight into student perceptions of their personal safety while on campus. Members interested in moderating and co-moderating focus groups received comprehensive training from a faculty member. After moderators, co-moderators, transcribers, and recruiters were selected, promotion for participation in focus groups took full swing. All ESG members were responsible for spreading the word to recruit focus group participants.
Researchers worked tirelessly to gain participants for the focus groups via a number of effective strategies. They tabled around campus, handed out fliers to fellow peers, and talked to students about the importance of participating in a focus group that could impact their campus safety. Researchers also announced the focus group opportunity in various classes to recruit participants. When researchers were able to secure participants, participant information along with focus group location, time, and place details were transferred through an email account created solely for the purposes of this study.
Over the course of two weeks, participants took part in one, two-hour focus group session where ESG members had the chance to engage students in perceptions of personal safety on the UF campus. Questions were kept open-ended in order to promote discussion and covered topics including concerns, greatest fears, daytime safety versus nighttime safety, and personal experiences. The questions also asked participants to describe current safety measures UF currently takes to promote personal safety and to describe what resources students are most likely to use. After all focus groups concluded, the audio recordings of the sessions were transcribed into documents and presented to the chapter.
With the academic semester coming to a close, Alpha Lambda members opted to move the next steps in the Personal Safety On Campus project to the next academic year. Members will review the transcriptions and develop goals and objectives for the Personal Safety On Campaign based on student feedback. The Personal Safety On Campus campaign will launch during the fall 2013 semester.