Survey: Nearly 1 in 4 female students at U of M experience unwanted sexual contact

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Nearly one in four undergraduate women were victims of unwanted sexual contact during college, and most of them didn't report the incident.

That's according to a survey released Monday conducted by the Association of American Universities (AAU), which reached out to students at 27 colleges, including the University of Minnesota Twin Cities (see more details on that below).

The results were consistent with similar surveys done on college campuses, a news release says, finding 11.7 percent of all students (not just women) reporting they'd experienced nonconsensual sexual contact since they had enrolled at their university. The incidents included physical force, threats of physical force, and/or being incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.

The highest rates of sexual assault and misconduct were among females and those identifying as transgender, genderqueer or non-conforming, questioning or not listed (TGQN), the survey found.

Of the female undergraduates surveyed, 23.1 percent reported unwanted sexual contact – 10.8 percent of them experienced penetration – while 5.4 percent of male respondents reported such incidents.

But many didn't report the incident to campus officials or police. The survey found only 5-28 percent of incidents were reported, with the most common reason not to report the incident being that it wasn't considered serious enough.

Despite few incidents being reported, 63.3 percent believe the report of sexual assault or sexual misconduct would be taken seriously by campus officials.

This survey comes as sexual assaults on college campuses have garnered increasing attention in the past few months, TIME says, noting the Obama administration's new efforts to combat the problem.

The University of Minnesota has also been working to address sexual assaults on campus, recently adopting a "yes means yes" affirmative consent policy.

A look at the U of M

The results of the AAU survey varied greatly by school, TIME notes, and at the University of Minnesota, the results were slightly different than the aggregate survey numbers above.

Female undergraduates who experienced unwanted sexual contact was slightly higher at the U of M, with 23.5 percent reporting such incidents, while 5.2 percent of undergraduate males at the U said they experienced unwanted sexual contact, the University of Minnesota said in a news release Monday.

Overall, 11.3 percent of U of M students reported nonconsensual sexual contact.

“The consistency of findings with the AAU survey and our own surveys conducted over the last 20 years are a positive sign that we know about these issues, but it is clear there is more work to be done,” Karen Hanson, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at the U of M, said in the release.

U of M President Eric Kaler also commented , saying: "We are intensely committed to continuing to track these numbers as we work with students, faculty, and staff across all of our campuses to create an environment in which everyone can feel safe and all can succeed."

About 150,000 students at the 27 schools participated in the survey, which was conducted in April and May of this year, the news release notes.

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