New survey finds high rate of sexual assault at US colleges

Results from the Association of American Universities (AAU) Campus Climate Survey were published Monday, an online questionnaire put to students of 27 U.S. Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) late in the Spring semester. The study found that 23% of female undergraduates had been sexually assaulted since arriving on their respective campuses.

The survey was sent to 780,000 students, 150,000 of which filled out a questionnaire.

17% of female freshman, and 11% of female seniors responded that they had been the victim of “sexual contact involving physical force or incapacitation”.

Besides the raw number of physical assaults, only 25% of respondents who claimed to have been raped or were attempted to be raped, reported the incident to law enforcement or school officials.

AAU’s findings are not new, but are consistent with other surveys including a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll published in June which “found that 1 in 5 young women who attended a residential college during a four-year span said they were sexually assaulted.”

According to the AAU survey, the highest percentage of sexual assaults on undergraduate females came from Dartmouth College, University of Wisconsin, Yale University, University of Southern California, and University of Michigan.

While the researchers admitted the results may be skewed higher, others like Brooklyn College professor KC Johnson were more emphatic in their criticism of the study.

“If you take this data literally”, said Johnson who studies sexual assault at IHE’s, “it would suggest a violent crime rate at most campuses higher than in any city in the country. Which I think is somewhat dubious.”

Indeed, some internal Justice Department statistics suggest that non-college women are more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than college-enrolled females.

Still, Yale University’s President, Peter Salovey, whose school surveyed at a 28% sexual assault rate among females, said the results of AAU’s questionnaire were “extremely disturbing”.

“The prevalence of such behavior runs counter to our most fundamental values,” Salovey said. “It threatens individual students, our learning environment, and our sense of community.”

All Ivy League schools participated in the survey with the exception of Princeton University.

Other participating IHE’s included Ohio State University, University of Missouri, Michigan State University, University of Oregon, University of Florida, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, University of Texas – Austin, and University of Virginia.



[] [AP] [Washington Post] [Photo courtesy Twitter via USA Today]