This report describes the policies and programs implemented and reported through an institutional survey undertaken by Association of American Universities (AAU) member universities to prevent and respond to campus sexual assault and misconduct. Fifty-five of the 62 leading research universities that comprise AAU’s membership completed the survey, and 61 institutions provided examples of activities.
All the universities represented in this report have changed and added strategies to combat sexual assault and misconduct on their campuses. Many changes and additions are linked to information gleaned from surveys of students, including a large-scale survey conducted by AAU in 2015, the Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct. These surveys provided information that was not previously available regarding the prevalence of the problem, as well as challenges in campus climate and processes. This report provides a rich set of data and dozens of concrete examples of campus activities now underway to better inform universities and study ways to effect change.
The report’s findings are divided into six sections, representing the range of actions to address sexual assault and misconduct. There is no magic bullet or one-size-fits-all approach: universities have undertaken a wide variety of actions including increased and targeted training, greater awareness-building, better-coordinated data collection, increased staffing, process improvements, and greater levels of collaboration within institutions and their communities.
This report demonstrates that institutions are acting to put student safety first.
100% of responding institutions have surveyed students on issues around sexual assault and misconduct at least once since 2013.
87% (48/55) of responding institutions indicated that surveys or data from surveys stimulated new or changed existing conversations with students about sexual assault and misconduct.
Survey results have been incorporated into training for students, faculty, and staff; served as the basis for town hall meetings and summits with students, as well as student-led discussions; led to revisions of university policies and procedures; catalyzed the development of new classes; and led to increased collaboration between administrators and student organizations and increased student involvement.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Over the last three academic years, 100% of responding institutions have changed or are in the process of changing their education and training for students and faculty. For staff, the figure is 98%.
Universities have found diverse and engaging ways to convey relevant information, including online education, skits, and other dramatizations. They are delivering training to students in multiple doses and with increased frequency. Many examples also focus on mandatory training for faculty and staff, and for students with teaching responsibilities.
Over the last three academic years, 84% (46/55) of institutions have developed new programs, education, or interventions for specific student populations or types of students.
These student subgroups include LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) students, graduate and professional students, international students, students of color, transfer students, sexual assault victims, students involved in Greek life, first-year students, senior women, men, athletes, members of student organizations, and student leaders.
One critical area that universities are spending more time on is bystander intervention training. Training students to intervene properly is an important way to reduce campus sexual assault and misconduct. Some universities use externally developed programs like Green Dot, while others have developed their own bystander intervention programs.
Over the last three academic years, 100% of responding institutions have developed, redefined, or enhanced programs to assist victims of sexual assault and misconduct.
Institutions have added services for victims and made existing services easier to understand and obtain. They have streamlined and simplified policies and procedures regarding sexual assault and misconduct to make them more transparent, and made resources easier to use including agreements with off-campus institutions, hospitals, law enforcement, and others.
Institutions have worked to ensure that respondents (students accused of committing violations) are treated fairly and are provided with a clear understanding of the university’s processes and available resources. Institutions have also taken steps to ensure that respondents have access to support services.
DEVELOPING A CAMPUS ECOSYSTEM
Universities are integrating survey data with other sources of information and pursuing further investigation of specific issues to help craft appropriate and effective responses.
Nearly 75% (41/55) of responding institutions reported conducting question-based data collection or studies that delve more deeply into specific issues raised by surveys, focus on the experiences of particular student populations, or address other specific issues.
Virtually all universities (98% or 54/55) reported plans to conduct such studies in the future. Such studies take a range of forms, including focus groups, interviews, follow-up surveys targeted to subgroups of students, and cohort studies.
An issue of special concern is barriers to reporting. One particularly alarming result of the 2015 AAU climate survey was attitudinal: More than 50 percent of the victims of even the most serious incidents say they do not report the event because they do not consider it “serious enough.”
Institutions provided examples of how they are trying to improve their understanding of this issue and thus increase reporting.
95% (52/55) of responding institutions indicated that they are developing new coordination or data-sharing relationships between offices and programs to help address sexual assault and misconduct on campus.
Many campuses have established mechanisms to address these issues in a coordinated fashion. Some institutions have adopted new or shared databases to better facilitate coordination and flow of relevant information. Universities have also developed partnerships with outside entities to enhance and complement services provided by the university itself.
In each three of the categories—victim support, student training, and faculty and staff training—more than 90% (50/55) of institutions reported increasing resources.
As well as other kinds of resources devoted to addressing these issues, the report estimates the addition of a minimum of 253 full-time equivalent employees across these institutions over the last three academic years. Universities emphasized the steps they have taken to be as cost efficient as possible while still increasing the attention given to sexual assault prevention and response. Training existing employees, enhancing existing student support services, and capitalizing on services provided by community partners are all ways that institutions have controlled costs while rising to the challenges posed by these issues.
84% (46/55) of institutions said they were developing new or improved ways of measuring the effectiveness of policies, programs, and interventions.
Universities are evaluating effectiveness by gathering student opinion and feedback and by looking at trends. They are developing new assessment mechanisms to measure program effectiveness and are conducting pre-/post- evaluations of actions or interventions.
Institutions are particularly interested in assessing changes in the campus community’s knowledge about and utilization of campus policies and resources related to sexual assault and misconduct.
84% (46/55) of institutions reported assessing students’ knowledge about and utilization of policies and resources, and well over half are assessing faculty (62% or 34/55) and staff (60% or 33/55) knowledge.
Universities are examining changes in knowledge and utilization of policies by looking at repeated surveys or online assessments/training, and by comparing different sources of data.