Study: Nearly 25% of female undergrads assaulted

Posted at 12:04 PM, Sep 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-21 12:04:50-04

Nearly 25 percent of female undergraduate students in the nation have been sexually assaulted since they started college, according to a new study from The Association for American Universities.

The study found 23.1 percent of female undergraduate students said they were sexually assaulted, compared to just 5.4 percent of undergraduate male students.

The number is even higher for students who said they are transgender, genderqueer or nonconforming and questioning. The study found 24.1 percent of TGQN students said they had some form of sexual assault since starting college.

Among graduate students, the numbers dropped for everyone, with 8.8 percent of females, 2.2 percent of males and 15.5 percent of TGQN saying they were sexually assaulted.

According to the study, a small percentage of the most serious incidents are reported to an organization, and more than 50 percent of victims of the most serious incidents said they didn't report it because they don't consider it, "serious enough."

Others said they did not report it because they were, "embarrassed, ashamed, or that it would be too emotionally difficult."

They study surveyed more than 150,000 students from 27 universities in March and April of this year. Both Michigan State and the University of Michigan were included in the survey.

For Michigan State, 8,352 students took part in the national survey. According to MSU, 13.2 percent of students said they experienced nonconsensual sexual contact since enrolling at the university.

MSU also said 71.9 percent of students who were sexually assaulted did not report the incident. According to MSU, 60 percent of students said they didn't consider it serious enough, but nearly 40 percent said they felt embarrassed, ashamed or that it was too emotionally difficult to report.

“The survey underscores that sexual assault on college campuses is a serious national issue,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said in a release. “I take no comfort that our preliminary analysis of this data suggests the experiences of some of our students are statistically similar to those at other AAU institutions."

“We have long known, both here at MSU and nationally, that sexual assault is vastly underreported,” Paulette Granberry Russell, MSU's Title IX coordinator and senior adviser to the president said. “We must continue discussions on campus about how serious this issue is and foster a culture that empowers women and men to come forward.”

For the University of Michigan, the study found 14.6 percent of all U-M students reported some type of sexual assault.

Among female undergraduates, 30.3 percent reported, "experiencing nonconsensual penetration or sexual touching by force or incapacitation" since starting at U-M. Physical force was defined as, "Physical force or threats of physical force," while incapacitation is described as, "unable to consent or stop what was happening because you were passed out, asleep, or incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol."

"Sexual misconduct must be addressed on our college campuses and throughout society," U-M President Mark Schlissel said in a release. "This research is vitally important to our understanding of this problem so we can design education and prevention efforts in the most effective manner possible."

In all, the survey was open to about 38,000 students on the Ann Arbor Campus. About 6,700 students completed the survey.