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Student Survey: 1 In 5 U Of I Women Experience Sexual Assault, Most Tell No One

University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

A new University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign survey finds most students who experience sexual misconduct don’t tell anyone. 

Campus officials say the findings of the Spring 2019 Climate Survey on Sexual Misconduct are a signal that they need to do more to encourage victims to come forward.

The survey was sent to 12,500 graduate and undergraduate students in spring 2019.

Of the 2,076 people who responded, roughly 1 in 5 women and 4% of men said they’ve been sexually assaulted since coming to the U of I. 

Students were also asked about other forms of sexual misconduct, including sexism, sexual hostility and harassment, including cyber harassment and stalking.

Overall, women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Greek-affiliated students and people living with a disability were more likely to experience sexual misconduct.

While 87% of students said they believe the U of I would take a report of sexual violence seriously, more than half of victims said they told no one what happened to them. Among those who did disclose the experience with someone, 91% said they told a friend. 

The survey finds students who experienced sexual misconduct report greater distress and disengagement with their academic work.

While nearly 90% of students said they’ve seen information about sexual misconduct from the U of I, 3 out of 10 students said they didn’t know where to go to report sexual misconduct. 

Of those who reported an experience of sexual misconduct to the U of I, nearly three-quarters said they were satisfied with the support they received.

U of I officials said they’re committed to eliminating sexual misconduct on campus, with mandatory training in sexual assault prevention, as well as bystander training and other programs and resources for students and staff.

A statement from Danita M. B. Young, vice chancellor for student affairs, reads in part: 

“We are working tirelessly to improve our prevention and education efforts to make sure our students and our entire community are aware of the expectations and standards we have set forth regarding conduct and that we will respond to any allegation they bring forward. We will continue to ensure faculty, and staff are involved in training measures. We will we also continue to increase committee involvement around sexual misconduct prevention on the faculty side as well as student involvement, particularly from our Illinois Student Government and other student organizations and leaders. And, we will continue to hold focus groups to explore more ways to improve our response to survivors.”

In an email to students, Young encouraged students to look out for each other, intervene when necessary and help people find resources when they’ve experienced sexual misconduct.

“Sexual misconduct is prevalent in our society and the University of Illinois is not immune,” Young said. “We are working to improve the campus climate.”

Find the full report online.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman

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Christine Herman

Christine Herman is a Ph.D. chemist turned audio journalist who covers health for the Illinois Newsroom. Her reporting for Illinois Public Media/WILL has received awards from the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association, the Public Media Journalists Association and has reached both regional and national audiences through WILL's health reporting partnership with Side Effects Public Media, NPR and Kaiser Health News. Christine started at WILL in 2015.

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