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We Speak Survey results find decline in sexual misconduct rates

In an email to the University community, Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity Michele Minter reported the results of the second annual “We Speak” survey that was administered in 2015.


The reported results of misconduct were lower than last year’s “We Speak” survey, but they “still show that too many of our students have been victims of sexual misconduct,” the email stated.

While undergraduate women still experienced the highest rate of sexual misconduct at the University, they experienced fewer instances, according to the 2016 survey. 1 in 3 undergraduate women were victims of sexual misconduct in 2015 compared to 1 in 4 in the 2016 survey.

The email notes that the 2016 survey “was modified to improve the clarity of questions and to explore some aspects of sexual misconduct in greater detail.” Nearly half of the undergraduate and graduate students took the survey, according to Title IX Administrator Regan Crotty.

According to an infographic made from survey results, “Undergraduates who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning were 2 times as likely to experience sexual misconduct than undergraduates who identify as heterosexual or straight.”

While the survey is anonymous, Crotty noted that they “assume that people are honest,” when analyzing the results of the survey.

In last year’s survey, over half of undergraduate women and 62 percent of undergraduate men who experienced sexual misconduct told someone about the behavior, while only 43 percent of graduate students told someone.


Additionally, both surveys report a large majority of students were aware of the resources available on campus. Nearly 80 percent of students were aware of resources last year, and in 2016, 88 percent of women and 85 percent of men “reported that they personally know where to go on campus to get help should they or a friend be sexually assaulted,” according to this year’s report.

“We are encouraged by the fact that more of our students are aware of resources,” Crotty said . “We are really happy that so many students participated.”

Minter’s email reported that of the students who responded, only 15 percent “experienced inappropriate sexual behavior during the last academic year, defined to include non-consensual sexual contact, stalking, sexual harassment, and/or an abusive intimate relationship.”

“I think that it’s much more common than that,” Ellen Anshelevich ’19 stated. She added that the subject matter may have deterred students from participating. “A lot of people may have just not responded. For something as serious as rape, maybe they just didn’t want to report it,” Anshelevich explained.

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Vidur Beharry ’19 believes there might be a discrepancy between reality and the results as well. “Just looking at the statistics and the first half of the actual report, it seems like it understates what actually happens here and how often it happens,” he said . Beharry is also a SHARE peer.

On the impact of this understatement, Beharry described that the results make sexual misconduct appear to be less of an issue on campus than it actually it is… the fact that it says that 1 in 4 undergraduate women experience sexual misconduct is pretty disturbing.”

Crotty described that, in addition to the high response rate, respondents left around 600 written comments.

“The comments were very varied people and were very supportive of the survey process and happy we’re doing it,” she said. “Most of the comments were comments that discussed training, [and were] supportive of training, supportive of further training.”

Crotty added that the the Faculty-Student Committee on Sexual Misconduct will review the results of the “We Speak” survey over the course of the next months to see if there are “other steps we should be taking.” Crotty added that she hopes students will read the report despite its length and talk with people in the community about it. She also expressed she hopes students will reach out to resources including the director of SHARE, the LGBT Center, the Women*s Center, the Carl A. Fields Center for Diversity and Inclusion, RCAs, and GSGs.