1 in 3 undergraduate women have experienced inappropriate sexual behavior at U.| September 29, 2015
Undergraduate women experience the highest instance of inappropriate sexual behavior among students at the University, according to the summary report for the 2015 survey "We Speak: Attitudes on Sexual Misconduct at Princeton," released by the Universityon Tuesday.
According to the results, approximately one in three undergraduate women have experienced inappropriate sexual behavior in comparison with an estimated one in five graduate women, one in seven undergraduate men and one in 18 graduate men.
Fifty-five percent of undergraduate women and 62 percent of undergraduate men indicated that they told someone about the incident of inappropriate sexual behavior, while 43 percent of graduate students told someone, according to the report.
The report explained that students not thinking what happened to them was “serious enough to talk about” was among the most frequently cited reasons that students did not tell anybody about their experiences of inappropriate sexual behavior. Other reasons included students’ viewing their experiences as a “private matter that they wanted to deal with it on their own” and students expressing that “they had other things they needed to focus on and were concerned about classes or work.”
The survey also found that nearly 80 percent of undergraduate students at the University know where to get help on campus should they experience non-consensual sexual contact. Fewer graduate students reported having knowledge of the process.
Vice Provost for Institutional Equity & Diversity Michele Minter said that though the results of the survey are not markedly different than those being reported nationally, the numbers are still very concerning for the University.
“We would like this campus to be as safe as possible,” Minter said. “We would like, over time, to see the prevalence numbers drop and the number of reports and awareness of the campus community in terms of how they [students] can access resources to go up.”
According to the recent American Association of Universities sexual assault survey, the results of which were released last week,11.7 percent of student respondents across 27 universities reported experiencing nonconsensual sexual contact by physical force, threats of physical force, or incapacitation since they enrolled at their university. The rate among women was 23.1 percent. Rates of reporting to campus officials varied from five to 28 percent depending on the type of behavior.
Vice Provost for Institutional Research Jed Marsh said that he thinks of the survey in itself as a learning moment for the University, and noted that the survey data provides extensive insight to help move along the dialogue concerning issues of sexual misconduct at the University.
The confidential Web-based survey wasadministeredover 28 days beginning March 24, 2015, and was ultimately completed by 4,115 of the 7,862 enrolled undergraduate and graduate students, or 52 percent, according to the report.
“We think [the survey] gave us a fairly representative sample of the campus,” Minter said.
Both Marsh and Minter noted that the response rate for the survey was very high in terms of the usual response rate for campus surveys and surveys concerning sexual misconduct.
Minter explained that the University is doing more outreach in academic departments about resources on campus since academic departments are where graduate students get most of their information. Additionally, she said, this is the first school year that incoming graduate students have been required to do online training around sexual misconduct.
“They have not had as much exposure to the resources or the reporting options in the past. That has just changed starting this fall,” Minter said.
The the survey is part of the University’s ongoing efforts to provide a campus environment that is safe and supportive to all students and in compliance withTitle IX, the report said.
“The goal is to think about whether there is additional programming to be set, whether there are additional interventions that are more likely to be effective, and what kind of recommendations should be made to the campus,” Minter said.
According to Minter, the Faculty-Student Committee on Sexual Misconduct is already beginning to think about the many questions that need to be asked in analyzing the survey data.
This work will be going on over a number of months, Minter explained. Based on the survey’s findings, the Committee on Sexual Misconduct will then publish recommendations.
Minter noted that the Committee will look at potential modifications for the survey, which will be conducted again in the next two school years.
“We’d like to understand more about how we can help students,” Minter said.
The University has also launched a campus-wide bystander intervention initiative calledUMatterto equip students with skills to become effective bystanders and make healthy choices for themselves and others. Minter said the UMatter initiative is a very interesting tool that focuses on self-care and care for others in the community.
Minter noted that the University has many programs and initiatives, like incoming freshman and junior sexual misconduct training and the Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resource and Education office, in place to train students to react to different moments and outcomes. How these existing efforts will be affected in light of the survey report, she explained, is not yet clear.
“We’re just digesting implications of the survey results now,” Minter said.
According to the summary report, the University intends to use the findings of the survey to inform campus programming to address and prevent these issues, as well as to take other proactive steps to improve our campus.
Minter said she expects much student interest in the report.
“I do think that there will be a lot of student interest,” Minter said of the report.
Minter noted that University President Christopher Eisgruber '83 has made a commitment to be transparent with the data concerning sexual misconduct and that making campus safer is important to every level of the University administration.
The Faculty-Student Committee on Sexual Misconduct, which is co-chaired by Minter andProfessor of English Deborah Nord, will be holding meetings Wednesday and Friday to hear from members of the University community about the report. The report will also be discussed at the Council of the Princeton University Community meeting on Monday, Oct. 12.