New national survey finds 'significant levels of sexual misconduct' on college campuses

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Posted at 8:37 AM, Oct 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 15:46:00-04

(WXYZ) — The Association of American Universities has released results of a massive survey they conducted looking into the sexual assault and sexual misconduct climate on college campuses.

The survey is a follow-up to the organization's campus climate survey in 2015 and campus activities survey in 2017, and on a much larger scale. According to the AAU, 181,752 students participated in the survey from 33 colleges and 32 AAU member schools. In 2015, they had 150,072 respondents.

Of the students surveyed in the 2019 study, nearly 60 percent were undergraduate students while 40 percent were graduate and professional students. 53 percent were from private institutions while 47 percent were from public. This survey was also key was it had one of the largest sample sizes of people who self-identified as transgender, non-binary, or other TGQN.

Key findings from the study include:

– The overall rate of non-consensual sexual contact by physical force or inability to consent since a student enrolled was 13 percent, with rates higher for women and transgender, genderqueer and non-binary than men.
– In the case of the 21 schools who participated in 2015 and 2019, the rate of non-consensual sexual contact by physical force or inability to consent increase to 26.4 percent for undergrad women, 10.8 percent for graduate or processional women, 6.9 percent for undergraduate men.

The survey also found that schools in 2015 and 2019 also had significant increases in student reports of their knowledge about school procedures related to sexual assault.

According to the report, women and people who identity as TGQN see sexual assault and other misconduct at the school as more problematic than men do.

77 percent of undergraduate women say that it is at least "somewhat" problematic at their school, while 72 percent of graduate women say the same. For those who identity as TGQN, 75 percent of undergrads and 56 percent of graduate students say it's "somewhat" problematic, while 45 percent of undergraduate men and 43 percent of graduate men say it's "somewhat" problematic. You can read the entire report here.

"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," AAU President Mary Sue Coleman said. She is also the former president of the University of Michigan. "The good news – made possible by comparing data from the 21 schools that participated in both the 2015 and 2019 surveys – is that students are more knowledgeable than they were four years ago about what constitutes sexual assault and misconduct, how to report it, and what resources are available to victims.

University of Michigan findings

The University of Michigan was one of the 33 schools that participated in the survey, and was one of the 21 that also participated in 2015.

Findings from the U-M survey results include:

– 34.3 percent of undergrad women reported experiencing non-consensual touching or penetration since enrolling at U-M, down fro 38.2 percent in 2015.
– 17 percent of all U-M undergrads – and 26.4 percent of all female undergrads – arrive at U-M having already experienced unwanted kissing or sexual touching
– 6.7 percent of all U-M undergrads – and 10.6 percent of female undergrads– arrive at U-M having already experienced unwanted penetration or oral sex
– Undergrad women, students identifying at TGQN, and students identifying as having a disability are the most at-risk students.

"The number of sexual assaults and misconduct cases continues to be too high at U-M, on college campuses across the country, and throughout our society in general. We must do everything we can as we strive to reduce the number to zero," said president Mark Schlissel in an email to the campus community.

When it comes to sexual harassment, the university said that 19.3 percent of students said they had experienced sexual harassment that interfered with their academic or professional perormance

"It is important to study our own community and to take the findings into account when creating or revising programs and interventions," said Kaaren Williamsen, director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center. "These survey results will certainly impact the work we do in SAPAC to prevent sexual violence and support those who are harmed by it."