One in five female students on top US campuses sexually assaulted

Rate four times higher among women than men, and rising overall since initial 2015 survey

十月 15, 2019
Source: iStock

About 13 per cent of all students at major US research universities have experienced at least one incident of sexual assault since their enrolment, a nationwide survey has found.

The survey by the Association of American Universities, covering 33 of its member universities, found the rate was at 20 per cent for female victims and 5 per cent among males.

The AAU survey – incorporating responses from more than 108,000 undergraduate students and nearly 74,000 graduate and professional respondents – found victimisation rates had increased from an initial survey in 2015, although with much of the variation due to changes in participating campuses.

The AAU, representing 60 top public and private research universities in the US and two in Canada, said it began the surveys to help drive improvements at those institutions and sees much work still remaining.

“The disturbing news from this year’s survey is that sexual assault and misconduct remain far too prevalent among students at all levels of study,” said Mary Sue Coleman, the AAU’s president.

The AAU found the rate of non-consensual sexual contact by either physical force or an inability to consent increased 3 percentage points among undergraduate women between the 2015 and 2019 surveys. The rates rose 2.4 percentage points among graduate and professional women, and 1.4 percentage points among undergraduate men.

Among the 21 institutions that participated in both the 2015 and 2019 surveys, however, rates were largely unchanged. Two exceptions, which the AAU did not name, saw increases of 50 per cent and 75 per cent in their assault rates.

Women reported fewer than 30 per cent of the assault cases to an authority. Men did so in fewer than 18 per cent of cases. Leading reasons for women not reporting included the victim feeling she could handle the matter herself, the victim doubting the seriousness of the incident, and the victim feeling ashamed.

Yet, more than 65 per cent of students said university officials would likely take seriously such a report. Less than 40 per cent of students, however, felt they were highly knowledgeable about the definition of sexual assault, where to get help or how to report it.

More than 40 per cent of students in the survey reported experiencing at least one incident of any type of sexual harassment. Nearly 19 per cent said that behaviour interfered in some way with their academic or professional work.

For graduate and professional students, nearly a quarter of the harassment came from a faculty member or instructor, compared to a rate of 5.5 per cent among undergraduate women. Overall, the survey found that the “vast majority” of offenders were fellow students, commonly in some type of residential environment.



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Reader's comments (1)

Any sexual assault is abhorrent and this is a genuinely important topic to understand, thus mitigate. REPORT AP A58 : “Sexual assault” and “sexual misconduct” refer to a range of behaviors that are nonconsensual or unwanted. These behaviors could include remarks about physical appearance or persistent sexual advances. They also could include threats of force to get someone to engage in sexual behavior such as nonconsensual or unwanted touching, sexual penetration, oral sex, anal sex or attempts to engage in these behaviors. These behaviors could be initiated by someone known" or unknown including someone you are in or have been in a relationship with. REPORT P5: "The final response rate was 21.9 percent (Table 2). This rate varied by gender (17.5% men, 26.1% women) and affiliation status (20.4% undergraduates, 24.5% graduate and professional students). The difference between the incentive and the non-incentive conditions was approximately 9.1 percentage points (27.6% incentive, 18.5% non-incentive). Private schools had a response rate of 30.8 percent, and public schools had a response rate of 16.5 percent." Please put some effort into understanding 'response bias' and other important covariates in attempting to provide informative content where many of us have a duty of care to uphold. I don't mean to single you out and you are not alone in this generation of lazy journalism. Times Higher readership deserve better. Before you inform us, inform yourself.