Dozens of universities join UO in survey on campus sexual assault

The Association of American Universities announced Thursday, Jan. 22, that 28 public and private research universities, along with one nonmember institution, will participate in its national sexual assault climate survey this spring.

Interim UO President Coltrane announced in December that the university would participate in the AAU survey and also conduct its own local survey.

“I am pleased that the UO will participate in a climate survey that involves so many universities and students from across the country representing a wide variety of institutions,” Coltrane said. "I am hopeful that this national survey, coupled with our own research, will provide insight into this serious problem and help our campus better address how we prevent, encourage reporting of, and respond to sexual assault.”

The participating universities total more than 800,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional school students, so the survey is expected to be among the largest ever on sexual assault.

“Our primary purpose in conducting this survey is to help our institutions gain a better understanding of this complex problem on their own campuses as well as nationally,” AAU President Hunter Rawlings said. “Our first priority, and theirs, is to ensure that students not only are safe but feel safe. Universities will be using their data to inform their own policies and practices regarding sexual assault. We also hope the survey will help policymakers gain a better understanding of the problem, and that it will make a significant contribution to the growing body of research on sexual assault.”

The UO’s decision to do two climate surveys is part of a comprehensive plan to address sexual assault on campus. Coltrane has outlined recent policy changes and actions taken this year including changes to the student code of conduct, additional money for a victims’ assistance fund and prevention efforts, new sexual assault prevention staff and an agreement between UOPD and Eugene police.

The president plans to seek additional campus input this winter about recommendations from several reviews and create a comprehensive plan by the end of the academic year.

Coltrane has appointed an advisory group of faculty and staff to provide counsel about administering the AAU survey and the local survey. The AAU survey will be offered to all undergraduate, graduate and professional school students beginning in April. Coltrane has said he plans to make the results of the survey public.

The AAU reports that nearly all of the AAU universities not participating in the survey are either carrying out their own surveys or participating in state university system surveys. The list of participating universities, as well as more information about the survey is available at the AAU website.

By Jennifer Winters, Public Affairs Communications