Many incidents, few reports, low participation in UD's first sexual misconduct survey
A new survey about sexual assault and misconduct on the University of Delaware's campus shows many students have experienced rape or other unwanted physical contact, but few knew whether or how to report it.
Only about 14 percent, or nearly 2,600 undergraduates, participated in the survey, which was emailed out several times in spring 2015. But student activist Sage Carson says the data compiled and released this week is still comparable that found at other schools.
It shows that 73 women and 6 men said they'd been raped at UD. A third of women and a tenth of men said they'd experienced sexual misconduct, and even more answered yes about unwanted physical contact.
Meanwhile, more than three-quarters said they felt UD could take stronger action on reports of rape. And only 5 percent said reported their incident to the university.
"It seems like a lot of them put 'it didn't apply to me,' like they didn't feel that what was happening was serious enough to reach out to someone about it," Carson says. "So I think that shows we kind of have a misconception of what our resources are."
Carson says the survey "shows that we need heightened education on what our resources are and how you can reach out for them." The University has been focused on that this year, especially for new students. And Carson thinks it's starting to work.
"A lot of people said they'd learned about sexual assault from a conversation with a friend. So you're going to see a trickle down experience from that," she says. "And I've had some professors that teach things that have nothing to do with campus sexual assault, but that are having these conversations with their students, because they now feel it's important."
But she notes that the role of alcohol in campus rape culture is often still left out of those conversations. Carson says UD has an alcohol amnesty policy for students who need medical attention while drinking underage:
"But we're seeing kind of an increase in a need to talk about it directly with sexual assault," she says. "If you are assaulted while intoxicated, you have amnesty. It's fine. Nothing is going to happen to you because of alcohol."
The survey also shows some uptick in students being good bystanders -- helping protect their peers from attempted assaults, especially when alcohol is involved. And Carson says she was pleasantly surprised to see that most students said at least they'd reached out to a friend or peer soon after experiencing sexual assault or other misconduct.
But she also says they have a long way to go. Next year, she says UD might roll this survey into a broader campus climate assessment, to get a wider range of students to participate.
Read the full report here. An executive summary is below.
We'll talk to UD Title IX coordinator Sue Groff for more on this story, Friday at 3 p.m. on The Green.