About 15% of undergraduate women say they were raped since starting at KU, according to survey

photo by: Associated Press

A bus passes in front of Strong Hall on Nov. 16, 2015, on the University of Kansas campus. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

About 15% of undergraduate women, or nearly 1 in 7, reported on a survey that they had been raped since starting at the University of Kansas.

The survey, conducted through the Association of American Universities, additionally found that 13% of students who identify as transgender, nonbinary or gender queer, gender questioning or gender not listed also indicated that they had been raped.

“Preventing and responding to sexual assault and misconduct continues to be a priority at the University of Kansas, and the information we collect from surveys like this is crucial to us as we shape policy, process, outreach, and training for students, staff, and faculty,” KU spokesman Joe Monaco said in an email.

The survey also found that students have become increasingly knowledgeable about available resources, definitions and procedures pertaining to sexual harassment and assault.

In 2012, 20.3% of KU students said they knew how to file a sexual harassment complaint and whom to contact. In 2015, that percent rose to 41.4%. In 2018, a similar question that also included student knowledge of awareness of other campus resources brought the percentage up to 62.2%.

Vice Provost for Student Affairs Tammara Durham said in a news release that the results show KU is making progress but “still has a long way to go in other areas.”

“For example, KU students’ knowledge of how sexual assault and misconduct is defined is well above the national average,” she said. “However, KU students’ awareness of where victims can get help is slightly below the national average. In other words, these results provide cause for both hope and continued concern, and they will guide our continued efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault and violence.”

KU has conducted seven sexual harassment surveys in the past eight years. This year was the first time KU conducted the survey through the Association of American Universities. AAU surveyed 33 participating universities for its 2019 Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct.

The survey was open to students from Feb. 19 to March 22. It was sent to 25,732 students, and 16.4% completed it. KU’s response rate was lower than the AAU aggregate, 21.9%. Yet, this percentage is remarkably better than what KU has seen in the past. Response rates from previous years range from 2% in 2012 to 7.5% in 2015.

Results from the AAU executive summary show that the overall rate of nonconsensual sexual contact was 13%. Compared to AAU’s last survey in 2015, the rates of sexual assault and misconduct are up slightly.

It is difficult to compare KU’s rates of sexual assault and misconduct to previous years because questions on past surveys relating to sexual misconduct vary significantly in wording. In 2015, for example, students were asked if they had been victims of sexual harassment while at KU (14.75% said they had). But in 2016, the survey asked students if they or someone they knew had experienced sexual harassment (38.08% said they had).

In the survey from 2018, which KU conducted itself, there was not a direct question for students to answer regarding if they had been sexually assaulted or harassed while on campus.

Other results from the most recent survey:

• Among the 67.8% of students who reported that they had been in a partnered relationship while at KU, 11.2% said they experienced some type of intimate partner violence.

• 16.6% of KU students reported experiencing stalking.

• Among undergraduate KU women, 18.9% reported nonconsensual sexual touching by physical force or inability to consent. Among TGQN students, 15.2%.

• 50.2% of KU students in 2018 said they were aware that KU has a website dedicated exclusively to prevention of sexual harassment and sexual violence, compared to 31.9% in 2015.

• 43.4% of KU students said they knew the definition of sexual misconduct. The AAU aggregate percentage was 37%.

• In the AAU executive summary, 65.6% of all students surveyed said they believe it is “very” or “extremely” likely that school officials would take a report of sexual assault seriously, but for those students who reported an experience with nonconsensual sexual contact, only 45% held that same opinion.

• 1.7% of undergraduate men reported being raped.

Participating in the AAU survey cost KU $49,450, Monaco said.

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