More than 20 percent of female undergraduates at wide sample of top-rated universities said this year that they were victims of sexual assault and misconduct, re-affirming findings elsewhere, according to one of the largest studies ever of college sexual violence. The American Association of Universities survey, out today, sampled over 150,000 students at 27 schools, including the University of Arizona. Armed with extensive data on the scope of the problem at their own campuses, leaders of big-name universities said they are mobilizing to confront sexual assault as never before.
As first reported in the Washington Post, Yale University President Peter Salovey said he found “extremely disturbing” results indicating more than one-quarter of undergraduate women at the Ivy League school in New Haven, Conn., were victims of sexual assault and misconduct. “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.” Other university leaders, speaking virtually in unison, said the results sounded an alarm that must be answered.
I reached out to the University of Arizona Dean of Student's Office and to the Oasis program, where victims of sexual assault can make anonymous reports asking for reaction to the conclusions. Neither got back to me, but if they do, I will update this post.
Researchers acknowledged the possibility of an overstated victimization rate because there was evidence that hundreds of thousands of students who ignored the electronic questionnaire were less likely to have suffered an assault. Regardless, the numbers are staggering. These findings compel parents to demand better prevention and responses from campus administrators and to have quiet, candid, and honest conversations with their high school and college age kids.
Too often we are asked to help a victim investigate or navigate the Title IX or criminal justice process. The more awareness brought to bear on this problem, the more we can -- hope to -- change behavior and educate all students.
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