by Deirdre Fernandes
One in six college students have experienced unwanted sexual contact, a new survey has found, a slight increase from four years ago despite efforts by campuses to curb sexual misconduct.
Among the 33 university campuses surveyed, 16.5 percent of students reported they experienced some form of nonconsensual sexual contact since entering school, up from 14.8 percent in 2015, according to the Association of American Universities. More than 180,000 students nationwide participated in the survey this year, including those at Harvard University, MIT, and Boston University.
At Harvard, 12.4 percent of undergraduate and graduate students reported experiencing penetration or sexual touching by force, coercion, or without their agreement, a similar rate to 2015. Nearly 80 percent of the incidents involved alcohol and in three-quarters of the cases, the offender was another Harvard student, according to the report.
Since the last survey in 2015, Harvard has devoted more resources to preventing sexual assaults and harassment, including boosting its Title IX office to increase training and investigate allegations.
Yet students remain skeptical that their complaints will be taken seriously and are reluctant to take advantage of resources, Harvard’s deputy provost Peggy Newell and business school professor Kathleen L. McGinn wrote in a letter presenting the results to President Larry Bacow.
“While there are reasons to be optimistic that our efforts are having an impact, the results of the Harvard 2019 AAU survey suggest that there is still much work to be done,” they wrote. The two women helped oversee the survey at Harvard.
At Boston University, which participated in the survey for the first time, nearly 24 percent of undergraduate women and 8 percent of men, reported experiencing non-consensual sexual contact, according to its report.
More than 7 percent of Boston University graduate women were victims of such incidents, the report found.
Results for MIT were not immediately available.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, college campuses have placed renewed focus on sexual assault and harassment. At universities across the country, professors have been pushed out in recent years over allegations of sexual misconduct, with some of the claims dating back decades.
Earlier this year, Harvard took the unusual step of stripping a former provost, Jorge Dominguez, of privileges granted to retired faculty after an internal investigation found a pattern of sexual misconduct over four decades.
At Dartmouth College, three psychology professors retired or resigned after students brought allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against them. At MIT, a professor at the university’s Media Lab was removed in recent weeks over complaints of sexual misconduct.
Meanwhile, US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has proposed reversing some of the Title IX sexual assault guidelines implemented by the Obama administration. Under the proposals, universities would need a higher bar of evidence before they could take action and would be limited to investigating only those cases that occurred on campus.
– Boston Globe
One in six college students has reported unwanted sexual contact, survey shows
by Deirdre Fernandes