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New Study on Campus Assaults

A new survey of more than 150,000 college students from 27 universities found that 23 percent of female students had experienced some type of unwanted sexual contact — from kissing to touching to rape — carried out by force or threat of force, or while they were incapacitated because of alcohol and/or drugs.

Conducted by the Association of American Universities (AAU), the main goal of the Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct was to provide participating institutions of higher education with information to inform policies to prevent and respond to sexual assault and misconduct.

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Key findings from AAU’s study include:

+ An overall 11.7 percent of respondents report they experienced nonconsensual sexual contact by physical force, threats of physical force, or incapacitation since they enrolled at their university.

+ Among female undergraduates, the incidence of sexual assault and sexual misconduct due to physical force, threats of physical force or incapacitation was 23.1 percent, including 10.8 percent who experienced penetration.

+ The overall rates of reporting to campus officials and law enforcement or others were low — ranging from five percent to twenty-eight percent, depending on the specific type of behavior.

+ The most common reason for not reporting incidents of sexual assault and sexual misconduct was that it was not considered serious enough. Other reasons given included because they were “embarrassed, ashamed or that it would be too emotionally difficult,” and because they “did not think anything would be done about it.”

+ 63.3 percent of student respondents believe that a report of sexual assault or sexual misconduct would be taken seriously by campus officials.

Bystander intervention was also addressed in the survey and respondents were asked whether they have been a bystander to the occurrence of sexual assault or misconduct, and if so, the extent to which they intervened and the reason for their intervention decision.

+ Overall, 17.8 percent of respondents have suspected that a friend may have been sexually assaulted. Among those who reported they suspected a friend had been sexually assaulted, 66.4 percent took some type of action, with most speaking to the friend or someone else to seek help (57.1%).

+ Overall, 44.4 percent of respondents reported they have witnessed a drunk person heading for a sexual encounter. Among those who reported being a witness, 77.0 percent indicated that they did nothing, with 23.5 percent saying they weren’t sure what to do and 53.5 percent saying they did nothing for another reason.

+ Overall, 19.6 percent of respondents indicated that they had witnessed someone acting in a sexually violent or harassing manner. Among those who witnessed this, 54.5 percent indicated that they did nothing, with 24.5 percent saying they weren’t sure what to do and 30.0 percent saying they did nothing for another reason.

To download the report in its entirety, please visit the Association of American Universities

September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month!

Visit the Clery Center for National Campus Safety Awareness Month and access free professional development opportunities on key areas that impact your campus community.