One of Largest on Sexual Violence and Misconduct
The Association of American Universities has released the results of their survey on sexual violence and misconduct on campus. This is one of the largest ever on sexual violence on U.S. campuses, order involving over 150,000 students. It features a broad range of data, some in areas not previously included in surveys of this size, if at all. Twenty seven universities participated, each releasing their own report, typically around 124 pages long.
The report affirms that sexual assault and sexual misconduct are prevalent on campus, with results that are consistent with previous research.
Full Report (pdf)
Read the aggregate results, methodology, conclusions and recommendations in the full report here:
The report also includes a number or useful resources to colleges wishing to conduct their own survey. These include documents provided to participating colleges to reach out and encourage participation, describe the purpose and obtain releases from respondents.
For information about the survey’s background, participation and results, in quickly-scanable list form, check out this fact sheet.
The survey assesses the “incidence, prevalence and characteristics of incidents of sexual assault and misconduct,” as well as the overall campus climate regarding “perceptions of risk, knowledge of resources available to victims, perceived reactions to an incident of sexual assault or misconduct.
It seeks to answer these questions:
- How extensive is non-consensual sexual contact?
- How extensive is sexual harassment, stalking and intimate partner violence?
- Who are the victims?
- To whom do students report or talk about the incidents?
- What is the campus climate around sexual assault and sexual misconduct?
Many of the answers are specific to each college and its climate. But there are areas of consistency that point to trends among college students and campuses in general, as well as red flags, that bear consideration and investigation on any campus.
New Data, More Categories
The survey includes an impressive range of data, covering areas often missing from national surveys and reflecting contemporary issues. Results are broken down in a high level of detail.
Previously Neglected Topics
- This is one of the largest surveys to include LGBTQ respondents.
- It is the first to include affirmative consent.
- It is inclusive of Native Americans.
Impressive Range and Specificity
It divides data according to:
- type of assault: those involving penetration and those limited to sexual touching
- tactics: physical force, drugs and alcohol, coercion, absence of affirmative consent
- behaviors: sexual harassment, stalking, and intimate partner violence
- respondent characteristics: including but not limited to gender (full spectrum), sex, sexual orientation; undergraduate/graduate/professional designation, residence and year.
Although the general results are informative and helpful, there are two caveats:
- This survey is limited to a small number of elite research institutions.
- Respondents self selected, which can skew results (compared to surveys that control sampling).
Even so, this survey can be replicated elsewhere. It is essentially a road map for colleges in general on how to assess student attitudes, experiences and needs specific to sexual assault and misconduct on your campus.
Although the general response to the survey has been positive, there is considerable controversy about the way it was conducted. Many have pointed to its exceedingly high cost–participating institutions paid a whopping $85,000 to cover the costs of a consulting company, Westat. Some have issues with a private company profiting from sexual assault, while others object to the fact that the amount charged far exceeds what most colleges and universities could afford. There has also been criticism of the manner in which the survey was developed, as it is the product of a select group of people who met behind closed doors.
A group of 22 universities has formed an alternative group ARC3 (the Administrator Researcher Campus Climate Consortium). Their mission is to “respond to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault by developing, testing, and disseminating a free campus climate survey for the higher education community.” Seminal campus rape researcher, Mary Koss, is among the participants.
Resources for Your Campus
Devoted solely on campus climate relative to sexual assault., this site features a blog, legislative updates, research and policy, and opportunities to get involved.
Sign up page for ARC3’s free survey tool.
Download AAU’s survey instrument here.