Utah State: 1 in 10 Female Students Have Been Sexually Assaulted

A climate survey conducted by USU found that five percent of sexual assaults are reported and the majority do not know where to file Title IX complaints.
Published: September 27, 2017

A report released Wednesday by Utah State University indicates 1 in 10 (7.4 percent) of its female students say they have experienced unwanted sexual contact.

Of the 7.4 percent, 90 percent say their attacker was an acquaintance, with 61 percent reporting the person as another student.

Only 5 percent of the students who say they had been sexually assaulted filed a formal report with administration, reports The Salt Lake Tribune. Thirty-seven percent of victims reported not telling anyone at all about their assault.

The school’s climate survey was conducted in April in which 45 percent of the student body participated, amounting to 10,502 total participants.

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“We needed a better understanding of where we were in terms of addressing the problem of sexual misconduct on campus,” says USU president Noelle Cockett. “The survey results give us a clearer picture of how we can better prevent and respond as a university, and a way to measure if we’re making a difference over time.”

Some of the survey findings may be attributed to the fact that the majority of participants – 51.6 percent – reported that they do not know how to file a complaint with the school’s Title IX office. Only 30 percent said they knew what would happen if they were to file a complaint.

The survey also found that low percentages of sexual assault victims have utilized campus support services. According to the report, 23 percent sought counseling, 11 percent sought medical attention, 7 percent sought advocacy services and 6 percent requested special accommodations from the school.

Amanda DeRito, USU’s sexual misconduct information coordinator, says the low awareness and utilization of campus support services is the most troubling and surprising finding from the survey.

DeRito says the school plans to conduct the climate survey every two years. She says these results will be a baseline of comparison against future surveys.

The anonymity of the survey, says DeRito, helps the school include students who would otherwise decline to report a sexual assault to administrators, which she says is crucial for both planning and promoting sexual assault prevention on the Logan campus.

Other findings from the survey indicate that 93 percent of students agreed or strongly agreed that they felt safe overall on the USU campus. Seventy-five percent also said they thought it very likely or likely that the school would take the proper steps to protect the safety of a student who reports a sexual assault.

Charges Brought Against Former USU Football Player

Many changes in the handling of sexual assaults at the school came after former TSU football player Torrey Green was charged with rape, forcible sex abuse and aggravated kidnapping for the alleged assaults of seven different women while he was a student.

The school launched an internal review which determined that it ‘fell short’ in its response to the assault claims.

Updated policies gave amnesty and confidentiality to victims and led to the creation of a Sexual Assault Task Force chaired by Cockett.

The school’s website says the group is responsible for strategic planning in addressing and preventing sexual violence on campus. The group is comprised of subject-matter experts and a combination of representatives from other campus-constituent groups.

“Universities should be havens of diversity of thought, discovery and engagement where students are free from any form of sexual misconduct,” says Cockett. “Moving forward, our goal is to expand our prevention efforts, bring attention to the important victim resources we provide and do our best for every student who comes to us with an allegation of sexual misconduct.”

USU Reacts to Survey Results

The school has implemented several new prevention and education programs in response to the survey’s findings.

This fall, USU introduced “Upstanding: Stepping Up to Prevent Violence in Utah,” a bystander intervention program led by the Utah Department of Health. The program currently consists of 25 trainers who target multiple audiences across the campus, such as new students, student leaders and Greek life organizations.

Mandatory training on sexual violence has been implemented for all incoming students and student-athletes. The training consists of an online sexual assault awareness course.

A “Start by Believing” campaign is also slated to roll out this year after the survey found that many victims will tell a roommate or a friend about a sexual assault. The program’s main focus is educating students on how to respond to a sexual assault disclosure.

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