Oct. 15, 2019
“The number of sexual assaults and misconduct cases continues to be too high at U-M, on college campuses across the country, and throughout our society in general. We must do everything we can as we strive to reduce the number to zero,” says U-M President Mark Schlissel.
Today, U-M released the findings of a 2019 follow-up campus climate survey of students on the Ann Arbor campus regarding sexual misconduct. U-M was one of 33 universities across the nation to participate in a survey sponsored by the Association of American Universities. This marks the third time in four years U-M has surveyed students on sexual misconduct.
2019 AAU Survey Results
Q. What findings stand out as significant in the 2019 survey?
The latest survey of University of Michigan Ann Arbor students regarding sexual misconduct provides new knowledge on students’ nonconsensual experiences before they arrive on campus as well as measures changes in its prevalence on the U-M campus and which groups are most at-risk.
Key findings of 2019 survey, include:
- Undergraduate women remain the most at-risk for experiencing nonconsensual touching or penetration since enrolling at U-M at 34.3 percent, down from 38.2 percent in 2015.
- 17 percent of all U-M undergraduates – and 26.4 percent of female undergraduate students – arrive at U-M having already experienced unwanted kissing or sexual touching.
- 7 percent of all U-M undergraduates – and 10.6 percent of female undergraduate students – arrive at U-M having already experienced unwanted penetration or oral sex.
- Undergraduate women, students identifying as trans man or woman, genderqueer or nonbinary, questioning or not listed, and students identifying as having a disability are the most at-risk of experiencing unwanted sexual behaviors, such as stalking, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence and nonconsensual sexual touching or penetration.
Q. How are the 2019 responses from U-M students different from the 2015 survey?
A. Below are the comparable data for the 2019 and 2015 surveys.
- 17.1 percent of all students indicated experiencing nonconsensual sexual touching or penetration by force, inability to consent, coercion or without active, ongoing voluntary agreement since enrolling at U-M , down from 17.4 percent in 2015. This is not a statistically significant* change.
- Undergraduate women indicated they experienced nonconsensual touching or penetration by force, inability to consent, coercion or without active, ongoing voluntary agreement since enrolling at U-M at 34.3 percent, down from 38.2 percent in 2015. This is a statistically significant change*.
- 5.1 percent of U-M students reported experiencing stalking in the campus community, up from 4.1 percent in 2015. This is a statistically significant change*.
- 8.9 percent of U-M students in a partnered relationship indicated they had experienced intimate partner violence, down from 9.9 percent in 2015. This is a statistically significant change*.
- 36.3 percent of students reported being very or extremely knowledgeable about sexual assault or other misconduct definitions at U-M, up from 23.2 percent in 2015. This is a statistically significant change*.
- 66.6 percent of students said it to be very or extremely likely the university would take the report of sexual assault or misconduct seriously, up from 57.3 percent in 2015.
- 50.6 percent of students said it is very or extremely likely the university would conduct a fair investigation in response to a report of sexual assault or misconduct, up from 40.2 percent in 2015.
- Survivors’ reporting of sexual assault to official university programs or resources has increased since 2015. About a quarter of survivors – 27.1 percent of men and 25 percent of women – said they reported penetrative or sexual touching by physical force or inability to consent to official university programs or resources, up from 23 percent for students overall since 2015. The majority choose to tell a friend or family member.
*Statistical significance of differences is a function of both the size of the difference and the number of people who answered the questions being compared. Though some differences look large, if they are not statistically significant, they could have occurred by chance. When a difference is statistically significant, then it makes sense to consider what the difference means.
Q. How does U-M compare with the aggregate AAU survey findings?
A. The U-M data in the report indicate that for some areas of nonconsensual sexual behavior, U-M numbers are higher than the aggregate AAU data, while in other areas U-M numbers are lower.
We’ve been working on this issue for decades, so it is not surprising that our students are aware of this topic and are familiar with how to respond. We believe that, too, is reflected in our percentages.
What is useful is for each institution to consider its own data, and to use that to develop education and prevention tools that best meet their school’s unique needs.
Q. How does U-M compare with other institutions?
A. While comparisons are extremely difficult given the differences in institutions and their student populations, as well as differences in response rates and other factors, there is no question we have serious issues that need to be addressed with a greater emphasis on awareness and education.
In addition, while there are differences among institutions in percentages of various misconduct experiences, the differences are not always statistically significant given the sampling error noted in the report.
But any experience of sexual misconduct is one too many. This is a significant issue here and elsewhere.
Q. Is sexual misconduct a college problem?
A. This is a societal problem. Today we’re talking about a problem on college campuses, but national data indicate sexual assault is significantly higher for non-students of roughly the same age.
Sexual misconduct is a challenge across society, including on college campuses. A 2007 study found as many as 20 percent of undergraduate females at two large public higher-ed institutions experienced some form of sexual assault, while a recent U.S. Department of Justice survey found the rate of sexual assault was 1.2 times higher for non-students among females ages 18-24 than among college students.
We have an opportunity on college campuses to add new knowledge on this issue through the research we are conducting, to develop strategies and then measure their results – and share that with others.
Q. What will U-M do with the results of this survey?
A. Data is critical to our work. The more we know about our community, the better we are able to tailor our programs to be most effective.
We will continue to talk as a community in the months ahead and continue to develop strategies together. Our work in this area is constantly evolving and guided by this important research.
In 2015, U-M participated in two campus climate surveys of students to gain an understanding of their experiences and perceptions regarding sexual misconduct on campus.
The first survey was administered in Jan., and was designed uniquely for and by U-M. A university team including the Institute for Social Research, Student Life and the Office of the General Counsel designed the questions and survey methodology. This survey was offered to a representative sample of 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The U-M survey had a 67 percent response rate, significantly higher than the response rate for typical college campus Web surveys. The results of the U-M survey were released to the public June 24, 2015.
The second survey was administered in April and was sponsored by the Association of American Universities, of which U-M is a member. U-M was one of 27 universities across the nation to participate in the AAU survey. The results of the AAU survey were released to the public Sept. 21, 2015.