Results from the University of Utah’s fourth sexual assault climate survey show that while students’ overall perceptions of campus safety and response have become more positive since 2020, perceptions of risk for sexual assault and misconduct have slightly increased. Additionally, while more students indicated they are aware of the many resources available on campus in regard to sexual assault and misconduct, most students who report experiencing violence, stalking or sexual assault/misconduct are not contacting a university official.
The U conducted its first survey on sexual assault and misconduct in 2016. In 2018, 2020 and 2022, the U administered a modified version of the Association of American Universities (AAU) survey.
The anonymous, confidential questionnaire gathers information about experiences with interpersonal violence, including sexual assault, sexual misconduct, domestic violence, stalking, harassment and other forms of relationship violence. Information gathered from the survey provides university leaders with insights into student experiences and trends, and helps shape services, programs and resources at the U.
The 2022 survey was sent to 31,414 degree-seeking students in January 2022. About 9%, or 2,859 students, submitted responses. This response rate is comparable to a quarter of AAU institutions that participated in a similar campus climate study and indicated a response rate between 6-16%. About 64% of respondents were undergraduate students, more women responded than men and 79% of respondents reported living off campus.
From 2020 to 2022, students’ level of knowledge related to sexual assault and misconduct has increased, as many of those surveyed identified and remembered training about sexual assault or misconduct from orientation at the university.
“We strategically focused on increasing communication about resources since the 2020 survey and are encouraged to see awareness about these support services improving, along with trust in the university’s handling of safety,” said Lori McDonald, vice president of Student Affairs. “However, we are still seeing that many students who reported experiencing sexual assault or misconduct did not take advantage of those resources. These important insights will help guide us as we continue working to improve student safety, well-being and success.”
Additional key findings from the 2022 survey include:
- Reported rates of sexual assault and misconduct have continued to decrease since 2018.
- Reported rates of harassment decreased for nearly all populations of students.
- Alcohol is involved in about 45% of all incidents of nonconsensual sexual contact.
- Most incidences of sexual assault are reported to have occurred off campus, in private residences.
- Nonconsensual sexual contact is mostly perpetrated by other students, followed in frequency by people unaffiliated with the U. The relationship with the victim is typically that of a friend, acquaintance or romantic partner.
- Consistent with the 2020 survey, only a small portion of students report incidents of sexual assault/misconduct, harassment, stalking or interpersonal violence to university officials. The most common reason for not doing so are the consideration that it was not a serious enough incident to report or the belief that nothing would be done.
Updated actions related to sexual assault and misconduct include:
- The Interpersonal Violence Prevention and Education Collective (IPV-PEC) became the McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention (MCVP), with a focus on primary prevention through education and research. The MCVP has since:
- Developed and offered 13 Fraternity Sorority Dialogues for members to discuss consent and healthy relationships in 21-22 academic year.
- Developed a four-part series for faculty and staff called “Beyond Mandatory Reporting.”
- Organized three working groups to engage campus community members in ongoing program development, education and research: Preventing Harm, Educating Campus and Engaging Men.
- Completed a research project exploring how college students discuss violence, the results of which will be posted soon.
- Launched a research project exploring experiences of minoritized students and dating and sexual violence– focused on theory to practice – will develop educational resources section of website, including presentations this summer based on that research.
- Partnered with the Center for Student Wellness and Fraternity and Sorority Life to facilitate a four-part workshop series for Interfraternity Council presidents.
- Presented educational workshops on the intersections of violence and oppression to over 25 departments, programs or student organizations on campus, as requested.
- Hosted Shamus Kahn and Jennifer Hirsch for a campus-wide lecture on Sexual Citizens, and a smaller, more intimate workshop for people engaged in violence prevention work.
- The U’s Victim-Survivor Advocacy (VSA) program has added the following services and programs:
- Identity-Based Survivor Psychoeducational and Support Groups
- Virtual/Tele-Advocacy Services for Appointments
- Survivor Support Spaces and Events (e.g., Solidari-Tea)
- The Victim-Survivor Advocacy Social Work Practicum Program was created, placing 1-2 first-year Master of Social Work students with the Center for Student Wellness, adding valuable capacity to the VSA program to expand direct services for the campus.
- The Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (OEO/AA) added a second associate director position so one is able to focus on case resolutions and one on accommodations.
- OEO/AA produced an online training now required for all employees on “Addressing Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct.”
- A Special Assistant to the Chief Safety Officer was hired to help bridge communication and partnerships between Student Affairs and Safety and other campus partners, including in sexual assault response.
- The University Police Department now has a female supervising lieutenant over investigations who is a certified instructor for trauma-informed investigation practices and provides that education to U Police officers and teaches across the state for the Peace Officers Standard and Training courses.
See a full list of new actions and trainings here.