Second climate survey shows low sexual violence reporting rates

Fewer responding students reported instances of sexual violence and more said they knew how to contact GW’s Title IX office, according to selected results released from the University’s second campus climate survey Monday.

Thirteen percent of the respondents said they had experienced sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating or domestic violence or stalking during their time at GW. Twenty-four percent had reported similar instances in the 2014.

Out of that 13 percent, 77 percent said the behavior was a joke, comment or gesture. Fifty-seven percent said they experienced unwanted touching, and nearly a quarter said they were forced to be involved in a sexual act.

More than 30 percent of responding students said they knew how to contact the Title IX office, compared to the 20 percent who said so in the first survey. Still, 91 percent of respondents who said they experience unwanted sexual behavior did not report the incident to any authority, and 63 percent of those who reported it said they contacted the Title IX office.

The online survey was sent to 3,000 students and 715 responded, roughly the same amount who responded to the first survey. Fifty-five percent of the respondents were undergraduates, according to the release.

The full results of the survey were not available as of Monday afternoon.

A number of new questions were also added to this year’s survey. When asked when unwanted behavior had taken place, 39 percent of respondents said they experienced at least one incident during their first semester freshman year, and 34 percent said one had occurred during the second semester of that year. Sixty percent reported experiencing the behavior during another academic year.

In a release, officials echoed comments from past years that they must do more to address sexual violence on campus.

“Title IX compliance requires constant self-critical analysis and a commitment to ongoing improvement,” Caroline Laguerre-Brown, vice provost for diversity, equity and community engagement, said in the release. “These surveys help us see where we are and how to improve our programs and services.”

But officials also pointed to results that showed 38 percent of all respondents had undergone Title IX training, up from the previous survey’s 31 percent. Eighty-eight percent of those respondents were first-year undergraduate students, who went through mandatory in-person sexual assault prevention training for the first time in 2015.

“Training and raising awareness are ongoing processes,” Title IX Coordinator Rory Muhammad said in the release. “The best way to get this information to sink in is to continue delivering it in multiple venues over a period of time.”

Other results from the survey include:

– About 70 percent of respondents said they felt “very safe” on campus during the morning, compared to 16 percent who said they felt the same at night. Roughly 55 percent said they felt not very safe or somewhat safe at night.

– Just under 10 percent of responding students said they would not speak out if they or someone they knew experienced the unwanted behavior, with 65 percent saying they would talk about it and more than a quarter saying they did not know. Of those who would discuss the behavior, 81 percent said they would talk to friends and 28 percent said they would reach out to the Title IX office.

– Nearly a quarter of LGBT respondents said they experienced unwanted sexual behavior. Twelve percent of heterosexual students reported the behavior.

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