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AAU Survey Results

Association of American Universities (AAU)

Campus Climate Survey of Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct

The Association of American University’s (AAU) 2015 Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct asked students to report on their experiences and attitudes with respect to sexual assault and sexual misconduct at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities (UMTC). More than 8,000 students responded, or 16.6 percent of the student population.


Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Remain National Problems

Overall, 23.5 percent of UMTC female undergraduate survey respondents reported experiencing sexual assault (nonconsensual penetration or sexual touching due to physical force or incapacitation) since enrollment. Among all survey respondents, 47.9 percent experienced sexual harassment, 10 percent experienced intimate partner violence, and 4.5 percent experienced stalking since enrollment.

Rates of sexual assault and misconduct are highest among undergraduate females and those identifying as Transgender, Genderqueer or non-conforming, Questioning, Not Listed (TGQN).

Incident UMTC data AAU aggregate data
Undergraduate females who experienced sexual assault since enrolled 23.5% 23.1%
Students who experienced sexual harassment* since enrolled 47.9% 47.7%
Students who experienced intimate partner violence since enrollment 10% 9.8%
Students who experienced stalking since enrolled 4.5% 4.2%


*Harassment was defined as a series of behaviors that interfered with the victim’s academic or professional performances, limited the victim’s ability to participate in an academic program, or created an intimidating, hostile or offensive social, academic or work environment. This definition is in line with campus policies, as well as those of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s definition regarding “hostile environment” and the US Department of Education. The specific behaviors referenced were taken from several different scales measuring harassment:


  • made sexual remarks or told jokes or stories that were insulting or offensive to you?
  • made inappropriate or offensive comments about your or someone else’s body, appearance or sexual activities?
  • said crude or gross sexual things to you or tried to get you to talk about sexual matters when you didn’t want to?
  • emailed, texted, tweeted, phoned, or instant messaged offensive sexual remarks, jokes, stories, pictures or videos to you that you didn’t want?
  • continued to ask you to go out, get dinner, have drinks or have sex even though you said, “No”?


Incidences of Sexual Assault Are Significantly Underreported

Among those respondents who experienced penetrative acts by force or incapacitation, 25 percent of UMTC victims reported their experiences. When UMTC survey respondents didn't report, 59.3 percent of victims stated they didn't because they did not think the incident was serious enough. However, 63.1 percent of all students said it is very or extremely likely that campus officials would take a report seriously.

Reasons UMTC survey respondents of sexual assault chose not to report
  • They believed their case was not serious enough - 59.3%
  • They were embarrassed or felt shame - 44.6%
  • They believed nothing would be done - 34.7%
  • They were afraid the reports would not be kept confidential - 19.9%


Alcohol Remains a Significant Factor In, But Not the Cause of, Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct

71.9% of UMTC incidents reported through the survey involved the use of alcohol by either the perpetrator or victim-survivor.


What We’ve Learned and What We’re Going to Do About It

The results from the survey provide a rich set of data that the University of Minnesota Twin Cities will explore to better understand the complexity of sexual assault and sexual misconduct on campus. Thus far, we’ve only been able to review top-level data, much of which has reconfirmed the importance of our existing programming while highlighting the need for continual re-examination. We look forward to partnering with student leaders and experts from across campus as we continue to reflect on the data.

Most importantly, the AAU survey results confirm that these are complex, evolving issues that require the cooperation of all students, faculty, and staff across campus. The data points to the fact that sexual assault and sexual misconduct are nationwide problems that cannot be solved by one campus alone. Rather they require conversations and the development of shared solutions on campuses, but also in close coordination with administrators and policy makers across the country. UMTC experts are at the forefront of these conversations and have engaged with US Senators as well as state legislators to advocate for new policies and laws at the federal and state level. The University of Minnesota Twin Cities will continue to advocate for students in these important policy discussions.

Closer to home, survey results for the Twin Cities campus highlight the need for four areas of focus:

  • We must continue to promote our services to students, faculty, and staff
    • 40.1% of respondents (51.2% of undergraduate female respondents; 59.6% of undergraduate male respondents) report attending orientation that included information about sexual assault/misconduct even though all first year students are required to attend mandatory training programs during orientation
    • 34.2% of student respondents report being very/extremely knowledgeable about where to find help at the university if they or a friend are victims
    • 26.7% of student respondents report being very/extremely knowledgeable about where to make a report of sexual assault and misconduct
  • We can do more to explain the University’s existing policies and systems
    • Survey results suggest some confusion among students about the processes and procedures the University has in place to respond to allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct:
      • About half of survey respondents (48.7%) believe the University is very/extremely likely to conduct a fair investigation in the event of a report
      • 40.3% of students report that it is very/extremely likely that campus officials would take action against the offender
      • 8.2% of students report being very/extremely knowledgeable about what happens when a student makes a report of sexual assault and misconduct
  • Bystander training and intervention are important opportunities to help improve the Twin Cities’ climate around issues of sexual assault and misconduct
    • 36.9% of UMTC respondents reported witnessing a drunken person heading for a sexual encounter
      • Of those, 75% did nothing to intervene. Among the population who didn’t intervene:
        • 23.3% not sure what to do
        • 51.7% did nothing for other reasons
      • Among students who reported witnessing an event that involved either sexual violence or sexual harassment:
        • 55.8% reported doing nothing to intervene. Among those:
        • 26% not sure what to do
        • 59.8% did nothing for other reasons
  • We must continue to focus on education about at-risk drinking and the connections between sexual assault and sexual misconduct
    • The University already has strong programming in this area, but we will explore how we can work to draw out the connections between risky drinking and sexual assault more directly moving forward
      • All first year students are expected to take an online class, Alcohol Edu, before the start of class each fall. The program has been shown to reduce binge drinking rates among first year students
      • Student who violate the conduct code or housing policies are referred to Boynton Health Service or Student Counseling Services for an educational intervention
      • Boynton Health Service provides alcohol and chemical health services such as Chemical Health Assessments, DWI and Alcohol Awareness classes, and Health Promotion Consultations
      • Boynton also sponsors the Gopher Chauffeur program, a free transportation service that promotes safety in the campus community by providing University of Minnesota students with safe rides home
      • Students Off Booze Enjoying Recovery (SOBER) is an organization of students recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and their friends who are allies in the recovery movement
      • The School of Public Health offers The Alcohol & College Life course, which was developed to provide college students with factual information about how alcohol and other drugs affect college life
      • The Student Mental Health website provides information, self-assessment tools, and other resources to help students concerned about or dealing with high risk drinking

How Can you Help?

Given the importance of this issue, we want to partner with you to make our campus safe for all students. There are a number of ways you can help:

UMNTC AAU Data Tables

UMTC AAU Sexual Assault Climate Survey Report

National Aggragate AAU Sexual Assault Climate Survey