Dueling data and competing claims around the issue and incidence of campus sexual assault has garnered national attention.
Critics of efforts to address campus sexual assault cite statistics that contradict the widely-cited Department of Justice “one-in-five,” claiming that sexual assault at America’s colleges and universities is extremely rare. To understand this controversy and conflict over the numbers, one must know the statistics these critics cite refer only to reported crimes. A December 2014 report, also from the Department of Justice, found that 80% of sexual assaults of female college students went unreported to police between 1995 and 2013. So there is an intrinsic flaw in using crimes reported to police as a standard of measurement, because so many assaults on college campuses go unreported to police.
In October 2014, MIT made headlines by conducting and publicly disclosing a climate survey which revealed that at least 17% of women and 5% of men said they had been sexually assaulted. Culture of Respect believes that campus climate surveys, like these, are a useful tool for colleges to understand the scope and nature of the issue at their school.
Our goal at Culture of Respect is to help solve the problem of campus sexual assault and to create a Culture of Respect on every campus, not to debate the numbers. The researchers who reported the initial “one-in-five” finding are again working with the Department of Justice on an updated sexual assault survey on campuses this spring; results are expected in the fall of 2015.
In the end, what we do know is that as the issue of campus sexual assault has hit the national stage, reporting numbers on campuses are up which means survivors are more comfortable reporting. This is progress and we will continue to work to create a Culture of Respect on every campus so all survivors feel safe and supported coming forward.
Thanks to your continued support and encouragement, we are bringing our work directly onto campuses. Culture of Respect is launching an innovative pilot program to assess the outcomes of our CORE Blueprint on diverse college campuses. Participating schools receive technical assistance at no cost. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Watch Executive Director Allison Tombros Korman on Huffington Post Live. Click to 11:57 for a discussion of the CORE Blueprint and how it will create comprehensive change on campus.