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More than 1 in 4 college women reported sexual assault prior to graduating, study finds

The Collegian would like to inform its readers that the content in this article may trigger those affected by sexual assault.

About 26 percent of college women reported experiencing sexual assault or misconduct as a result of physical force or incapacitation, according to a Campus Climate Survey on sexual assault and sexual misconduct released Monday by the Association of American Universities


(Infographic by Mariah Wenzel)
(Infographic by Mariah Wenzel)

Additionally, the survey found that non-consensual sexual contact involving drugs and alcohol constitute a large percentage of the incidents. 

Around 150,000 of the 780,000 students originally contacted responded to the survey — student respondents were surveyed across 27 American universities. The survey aims to provide institutions of higher education with information to prevent and respond to sexual assault and misconduct.

“The survey was designed to assess the incidence, prevalence and characteristics of incidents of sexual assault and misconduct,” states the AAU website. “It also assessed the overall climate of the campus with respect to perceptions of risk, knowledge of resources available to victims and perceived reactions to an incident of sexual assault or misconduct.”

Slightly more than 23 percent of female undergraduate student respondents reported experiencing incidence of sexual assault and sexual misconduct through incapacitation, physical force and threats of physical force since they enrolled at the university. 

The survey found that overall rates of reporting to campus or law enforcement officials ranged from 5 percent to 28 percent, depending on the type of behavior.

According to the survey, the most common reason for not reporting sexual assault and misconduct incidents was that it was not considered serious enough. The survey states that more than 60 percent of respondents believe that a report of sexual assault or misconduct would be taken seriously by officials.

Resources for victims of sexual assault on the Colorado State University campus include the Women and Gender Advocacy Center, and the 24-hour Victim Assistance Team, which is available to assist victims of sexual assault and interpersonal violence.

The 24-hour Sexual Assault Hotline is (970) 472-4200.

The Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center provides resources to victims affected by sexual violence.


Collegian News Editor Christina Vessa can be reached at or on Twitter @ChrissyVessa.

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  • R

    RVAroseSep 23, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    The AAU study is deeply flawed for several reasons. (1) First, it has a drastically low response rate for the size of the schools and the overall study, (2) as well as a given response bias given that students who have experienced sexual assault (a negative experience) are drastically more likely to respond. (3) But one of the major problems is also that the policy says students committed “sexual misconduct” if a student did not provide affirmative consent for a particular action, even though affirmative consent was not the school policy in place for a majority (15 of 27) of these schools when the survey was being completed. The students could have both been completely consenting adults who were complying with their school’s current policy, but if no “ongoing, affirmative consent” needed for the extra “affirmative consent” standard, then according to this study, they were in the wrong. The AAU needs to retract its survey and recalculate its findings based on whether an affirmative consent policy was in place when the survey was conducted.