A national survey regarding campus sexual assault and misconduct finds Case Western Reserve’s students are more informed about university processes and resources than in 2015, but also that female undergraduate students are more likely to face sexual assault—and female graduate students are significantly more likely to say that sexual assault and misconduct are problematic on campus.
“While we are gratified that the university’s educational efforts appear to have improved students’ knowledge about these issues,” said Darnell Parker, senior associate vice president for equity and the university’s Title IX leader, “the survey results also underscore the critical importance of continuing our efforts around awareness, bystander intervention and campus climate overall.”
Four years ago, 20% of Case Western Reserve’s female undergraduates reported nonconsensual sexual contact since starting at the university. This year the figure was 23.6%, just under one-fifth higher. While the change in percentage of female graduate and professional students reporting such conduct was far smaller (7.4% in 2015 to 8.3% this year), the growth in those saying that sexual assault and misconduct was problematic proved statistically significant (5.1% to 8.4%).
In contrast, the proportions of both female undergraduate and graduate and professional students who indicated that they were “very” or “extremely” knowledgeable about several aspects of Case Western Reserve’s policies and resources showed progress over the past four years. These included:
Knowledge of how the university defines sexual assault and other misconduct (for undergraduate women, 37.8 to 45.0%; for graduate and professional students who are women, 18.4 to 25.2%);
Knowledge of where to get help at the university if they or a friend experienced sexual assault or other misconduct (for undergraduate women 51.6% to 56.2%; for graduate and professional students who are women, 24.5% to 29.1%); and
Knowledge of what happens at the university when a student reports an incident of sexual assault or other misconduct (for undergraduate women, 36.6 to 44.6%; for graduate and professional students who are women, 21.9 to 23.7%).
Sponsored by the Association of American Universities, the survey drew nearly 182,000 responses from 33 of the nation’s leading universities—among them Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins and the University of Chicago. While the survey did include the option for students to indicate that they were transgender, genderqueer or nonbinary, or questioning, sample sizes within individual universities were typically too small to provide statistically valid results. Across all participating institutions (where the sample size was large enough), the rates for nonconsensual sexual contact by force or inability to consent were comparable or slightly lower than for undergraduate women. For male undergraduate or graduate and professional students and female graduate and professional students, the 2019 rates in this category were two to seven times higher.
Parker said that he and his staff will analyze the data in deeper detail to determine the best additional or different approaches to address these issues. He also noted that the university has created an outreach committee that includes Flora Stone Mather Center for Women Director Angela Clark-Taylor and Executive Director for University Health and Counseling Services Sara Lee.