Survey: 21% of undergraduate women have been sexually assaulted in college
- A nine-campus climate survey conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and RTI International found 21% of undergraduate women reported being sexually assaulted while in college.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that proportion was as high as 38% on one of the campuses that participated in the survey, and during the 2014-15 school year alone, between 4% and 20% of female undergraduates reported being sexually assaulted, varying across campuses.
- The study, conducted on an anonymous set of campuses, reached 23,000 students, more women than men, and differentiated between sexual assault, rape, and sexual battery (excluding rape).
According to the study, 4.3% of sexual battery cases and 12.5% of rape cases were reported by the victim, whether it be to a school official, crisis center, or law enforcement officer. The survey instrument took students less than 20 minutes toward the end of the academic year, and it included cash incentives to increase the response rate. The pilot was meant to serve as a model for other campuses interested in conducting their own campus climate assessments. Many colleges have already conducted similar surveys, especially as a response to Office of Civil Rights investigations over their policies and processes surrounding sexual assault on campus.
The data about incidence of sexual assault and the frequency of reporting is consistent with prior studies, and it is sure to fuel the fire in Congress among those who want to create federal policy that will hold schools more accountable to students. This fight will play out in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which may be put on hold because of the election year.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education 21% of undergraduate women have been sexually assaulted in college, survey finds
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