Troubling Statistics of Campus Sexual Assaults

By The Herald News Team

The National Criminal Justice Reference Service published two reports under the U.S. Department of Justice, one in December 2000 and another in December 2007, which highlight troubling facts about campus sexual assaults: nationally in more than 90 percent of rapes and unwanted sexual contact incidents on campus, the student did not report.

This is based on the December 2000 report, which also notes that “for every 1,000 women attending [higher education] institutions, there may well be 35 incidents of rape in a given academic year.” Another study using a sample size of 5,446 undergraduate women noted that 1,073 (19 percent) reported “attempted or completed sexual assault since entering college” with 507 (8.5 percent) cases being classified as rape. That last statistic is from the December 2000 report.

An Association of American Universities study reports that of 89,115 women in 27 institutions, 23 percent of undergraduate women were sexually assaulted while in college, with 11 percent reporting rape. That number is backed up a 2016 National Institute of Justice report that bumps the number up to 25 percent of 15,000 women in nine institutions and notes 4 percent of the 15,000 women reported rape in one academic year.

The statistics are troubling. And it’s true that they are just statistics, but during its three-month long investigation, the Herald News Team spoke to faculty, staff, and students who affirmed that the statistics were still applicable to the campus. Remember that the December 2000 report noted that over 90 percent of rapes on college campuses went unreported.

In 2016 there were 14 reported rapes on campus, according to the Living Safely security report distributed by Campus Safety.

The 2017 Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (HEDS) Survey, distributed by the Title IX Office, asked students’ opinion on the claim “I do not believe that I or one of my friends is at risk for being sexually assaulted on campus, off campus at an event or program connected with HWS, or at a social activity or party near campus.” The majority of female identifying students on campus disagreed with the statement.

Later in the survey, students were asked about attempted – and unsuccessful – sexual assault on campus or within campus functions or activities. 59 of the students surveyed responded with either “Yes” or “I suspect that someone attempted to sexually assault me, but I am not certain.” Fifty-nine students had experienced attempted sexual assault.

In the next question, the survey discovered that 46 students – 39 female, 7 male – had been sexually assaulted at some point during their time at Hobart and William Smith. In addition, twelve students – nine female, three male – suspect they were sexually assaulted. However, the NCJRS statistics equals 5.95 percent (based on the 2015 enrollment figure of 2,351 students). That is more than double the national statistic.

But those are just 46 individual students. Only 20 of them reported one incident of sexual assault; 26 students reported two or more sexual assaults and one female students reported more than four sexual assaults during her time on campus. Sixteen of those sexual assaults were experienced at a fraternity house. When accounting for the number of incidents per individual, the number rises to 21 sexual assaults at fraternity houses.

Of the 226 William Smith women who answered the 2017 HEDS survey question, 39 said they had been sexually assaulted and nine suspected that someone attempted to sexually assault them. Possibly 48 women out of 267 – 18 percent – had been sexually assaulted. But in the last three years, according to the published Campus Safety statistics, only 27 incidents of rape had been reported. What about the other twenty-one people? What about the eighty-four sexual assaults, reported in the HEDS survey, on thirty-nine female students at Hobart and William Smith?

One of the most difficult part about these numbers is knowing that so many people do not report sexual misconduct. Both Susan Lee in the Title IX Office and the Department of Justice report that between 75 percent and 90 percent of sexual assaults go unreported. Because of this, most officials can never know the full extent of assaults. It also leads to a feeling that there has been success in reducing sexual assaults.

What is most difficult overall, however, is that perception among students about reporting. The 2017 HEDS survey at HWS noted that 43 percent of female-identifying students did not believe that other students would support someone making a report to Title IX. This contributes to the basic culture at HWS wherein students do not support each other and instead contribute to an unsafe environment that perpetuates the cycle of sexual assault and harassment.

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