A national survey shows the University of Oregon continues to make progress addressing sexual misconduct and violence on campus but still has work to do to encourage students to access support services and make reports.
The Association of American Universities 2019 Campus Climate Survey conducted at the UO showed a small reduction in the percentage of nonconsensual sexual contact reported by students and an overall increase in their knowledge of how to seek help. The percentage of students who say they believe campus officials will take reports of sexual assault or misconduct seriously also increased.
“The results show improvements but also continued cause for concern,” said Darci Heroy, associate vice president, chief civil rights officer and title IX coordinator, who over saw the UO’s survey. “There are encouraging signs that the university’s prevention education and response programs are working. However, while students know more about resources, the results indicate that they do not feel comfortable enough utilizing these services .
“These results will continue to help us better understand what the barriers are to reporting so that we can adapt our approaches and policies.”
The UO joined 32 other universities in in the national survey of students last spring as a follow-up to the 2015 Campus Climate survey. The AAU also released an aggregate report of the trends across all 33 universities that participated in the 2019 survey.
UO President Michael H. Schill said he wanted the university to participate in the national survey again because of the opportunity to assess the the university’s investments in prevention and support programs.
“Any amount of sexual violence or assault on our campus or anywhere is unacceptable,” Schill said. “I am encouraged by the reduction in sexual assault prevalence and increased confidence in and awareness of services, however this does not mean we can be complacent. We will use what we learn from this survey to refine and improve our programs. Ensuring our students are safe, supported and know how to get help is absolutely critical to their success at the university.
“I am grateful for the collaborative work of our prevention and response staff with the faculty and units across campus to help educate, safeguard and support our students. Their work remains as important as ever.”
The key findings of the UO survey include:
- The overall rate of nonconsensual sexual contact by physical force or inability to consent decreased between 2015 and 2019, down 3.4 percentage points for undergraduate women, 1.6 points for undergraduate men, and 5.4 points for trans, gender queer, nonbinary or questioning students, listed as TGQN. Among undergraduates, 20.8 percent of women, 6.4 percent of men and 15.3 percent of TGQN reported this type of victimization.
- Rates of sexual assault and misconduct remain higher for undergraduate women, at 10.5 percent, and TGQN students, 10.6 percent, than for undergraduate men, 2.8 percent. The rates dropped from 2015 to 2019 at the UO but increased slightly in the national aggregated survey.
- UO students report being more knowledgeable about where to get help at the university if a friend experiences sexual assault or misconduct, an increase of 9.3 percentage points for undergraduates.
- Sixty-five percent of students said they feel campus officials would take sexual assault reports seriously. For undergraduate women, the confidence level increased 11.3 percentage points to 59 percent. Among graduate women, 52.8 percent felt sexual assault reports would be taken seriously, an increase of 20.2 points. TGQN students were the least likely to believe their report would be taken seriously at 43.8 percent, but also saw an increase of 13.8 percentage points.
A total of 181,752 students across 33 campuses completed the survey. At the UO 3,377 students, or 17.4 percent of all undergraduate, graduate and professional students, responded to the survey, an increase of 3.5 percentage points from the 2015 survey. Students were encouraged to take the survey through incentives that included gift cards, a random drawing for Duck Bucks and a donation to the Victims Emergency Fund.
A team of AAU university experts worked to design the survey, which included optional customization of university-specific questions. The AAU partnered with Westat, a leading social science research firm, to design and administer the survey in spring of this year. The participating colleges and universities were provided their own campus-specific data to further inform how to address sexual assault and misconduct on campus.
The university will continue to analyze the survey data during the coming academic year. The Division of Student Life’s Office of Assessment & Research, in collaboration with Sexual Violence Prevention and the UO’s Prevention Sciences Program, will be working to identify trends specific to the UO and provide an update with recommendations later this academic year.
“We are interested to see if any additional specific trends about our campus emerge from the climate survey data,” Heroy said. “Any additional insights we can collect from this data will help us further address these issues on our campus and hopefully better support marginalized and intersectional communities that experience higher rates of sexual assault and misconduct.”
The AAU Campus Climate Survey is one of several institutional surveys and assessments for the university. Other surveys and assessments include the student-directed employee survey and the annual Clery report, among others.
For more information on the 2019 and 2015 climate surveys, visit the Office of Investigations and Civil Rights Compliance website see see the full results and frequently asked questions.
—By Jesse Summers and Jennifer Winters, University Communications