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How prevalent is sexual assault and misconduct on campuses?

Conducting the 2019 Association of American Universities (AAU) Campus Climate Survey on sexual assault and misconduct

Effective policies and programs to prevent and respond to sexual assault and misconduct on college campuses start with statistically reliable and comparable estimates.

The Association of American Universities (AAU) selected Westat to conduct the 2019 AAU Campus Climate Survey of 33 college campuses to provide these data.

The primary task was to lead the design and implementation of a survey that meets the informational demands of 33 college campuses and produces a statistically rigorous profile of sexual assault and misconduct for each campus.

Westat partnered with university experts to design and administer the survey in the spring 2019. In addition to the core survey, Westat incorporated campus-specific survey items to further inform university efforts to address sexual assault and other sexual misconduct on campus.

The analysis provided separate estimates and details related to incidents involving 2 types of nonconsensual sexual contact and 4 tactics, as well as estimates on sexual harassment, stalking, and intimate partner violence.

The analysis also examined student knowledge about sexual misconduct, their opinions about school policies, exposure to school trainings and bystander Intervention.

Finally, the analysis looked at how much things have changed since the 2015 survey for the 21 schools that participated in both the 2015 and 2019 surveys.

A report on the results was provided to all 33 schools within 3 months after data collection ended. Westat also produced an aggregate report, which summarized the results across all 33 schools. All reports were released to the public within 6 months after data collection.

Selected results from the aggregate analysis are:

  • Approximately 1/4 of undergraduate women and undergraduate non-cisgender students report sexual contact by physical force or when unable to consent
  • Most victims of nonconsensual sexual contact do not seek help from local or school programs or resources. Less than half (45%) of victims said it was very or extremely likely school officials would take a report of sexual assault seriously.
  • Between 2015 and 2019 the rates of nonconsensual sexual contact did not change dramatically for the 21 schools that participated in both surveys.
  • Student knowledge and concern about the problem did go up significantly between 2015 and 2019.

Individual school reports can be found on each school’s website. The aggregate, supplementary, and methodological reports are available at the AAU website.

Learn more about the 2019 survey: AAU Campus Climate Survey (2019)


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