MIT Climate Survey Finds 17% of Female Undergrads Sexually Assaulted

Published: October 28, 2014

On Monday, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) unveiled the results of a campus climate survey of its undergraduate and graduate students. A widely cited statistic that about 19% of undergraduate women experience rape or sexual assault under conditions of force, threat of physical harm or incapacitation seems to also apply to women attending MIT.

The study, which was conducted in April, found that 17% of female and 5% of male MIT undergrads say they have been sexually assaulted. About 35% of the nearly 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students who were queried participated in the survey. About 30% of the respondents were male, and 46% were female.

In total, 539 indicated that they had experienced any kind of sexual misconduct while at MIT, ranging from unwelcome verbal sexual conduct to rape. These acts were usually committed on campus by someone they knew. Of those 539 individuals, 284 were undergraduate women. Of the 539 students who indicated that they had experienced such behavior at MIT, nearly half said that someone took advantage of them while they were drunk, high, asleep or otherwise impaired.

Additionally, 12% of women and 6% of men say they experienced unwelcome sexual contact but without force, threat or incapacitation, reports the New York Times. Some of those incidents could also be deemed sexual assaults.

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Interestingly, when students were asked if they had been raped or sexually assaulted, only 11% of women and 2% of men indicated “yes.”

In April, a White House task force called on U.S. institutions of higher education to conduct climate surveys of their students so they can better gauge the scale of sexual violence in campus communities.

MIT Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart announced that the school has taken or will take the following steps to address sexual misconduct on campus:

1. Increasing staff to respond to those who experience sexual assault, and finding new ways to let students know where they can turn for help.
2. Removing barriers that may prevent people from seeking help by revamping procedures for reporting complaints and processes for addressing reported complaints.
3. Building additional options for peer involvement in education.
4. Launching a Sexual Assault Education and Prevention Task Force.
5. Doing more to teach students about effective bystander intervention.
6. Helping students understand and handle the complex, sometimes unpredictable psychological impact of unwanted sexual experiences.
7. Stepping up education of links between alcohol, drugs, and sexual assault.

Photo: Facebook

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