- A survey conducted by Great Britain's National Union of Students reveals that 41% of more than 1,800 current and former students say they faced unwanted sexual comments or contact from university employees. Among the 1,535 current student survey participants, 12% said they were made uncomfortable by inappropriate touching from staff members; women were twice as likely to be targeted by unwanted advances than men.
- Less than 10% of current and former students who were victims of sexual misconduct said their institutions did not provide an adequate response, or blocked their efforts to report incidents.
- A female survey respondent indicated that her encounter with a staff member led her to a suicide attempt, while another waited 10 months for administration to respond to a claim which led to prohibiting a male professor from direct contact with her. Both women decided to pursue different fields of study as a result of the incidents.
Most higher education observers and stakeholders are aware of the havoc sexual harassment and assault can wreak on the lives of victims, and on institutional brands in instances where cases become public. But what is unspoken is the cost that is necessary to adequately address element harassment and rape culture on campus. Additional counselors, public safety officers, personnel or vendors for Title IX compliance and executive hiring to specifically oversee the response to these issues are just the tip of the iceberg.
Schools can build new cultures of reporting through investments in security technology, on-site counseling and reporting resources to make students aware of how these acts can be interpreted, and the individual and institutional consequences associated with harassment and assault. With the increase in sexual crimes on campus and more students demanding for institutions to take a strong position of deterrence, campuses will have to make significant investments to show that there are always eyes on campus watching, and offices waiting to respond to incidents of harassment and assault which can compromise enrollment, philanthropy and even public appropriations.
But when the harassment involves faculty or staff, there is a more significant role the institution must play, and a more complex path for the school in facilitating justice for all involved. These instances can involve potential criminal and labor proceedings, and usually these pursuits do not run neatly together in terms of timing, or punishment according to civil laws and campus guidelines. Schools have a bigger burden to make sure that students, faculty and staff are abundantly clear on the language involving sexual assault, how interpretations of remarks or touching can yield certain results regardless of intent, and how institutions have to receive reports in order to pursue and to prosecute possible violations against employees.