1 in 4 college women surveyed report unwanted sexual contact

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — A new survey finds that a quarter of undergraduate women at more than two dozen universities say they experienced unwanted sexual contact at some point during their college career.

The survey by the Association of American Universities comes at a time of heightened public awareness and increased scrutiny of what schools are doing to combat sexual assault on campus. More than 150,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students at the organization’s member schools participated.

Yale University was the only Connecticut school surveyed in the report.

The results were generally in line with past surveys on sexual assault and misconduct on college campuses — and confirmed that alcohol and drugs are important risk factors.

AAU President Hunter Rawlings says university leaders hope the results will help policymakers as they develop legislative and administrative responses to combat sexual assault on college campuses.

Yale University, one of the 27 schools in the survey, reported that 28% of female undergraduate students on campus reported being victims of unwanted sexual contact. The average of the schools surveyed was 23%.

We must continually assess and seek to enhance our programs to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct,using evidence-based and research-informed strategies. For example, we must better understand and actively remove barriers to reporting incidents of sexual misconduct to University officials. We must also ensure that when individuals come to us we have a full range of effective tools and resources to address their concerns.

The University of Connecticut, which was not mentioned in the report,  has put a new website online to help deal with sexual violence and harassment on campus.

The site, titleix.uconn.edu, provides information on the school’s sexual discrimination policies and how to file a police report or a report with university officials.

It also provides links to medical services and counseling as well as information for friends, family and partners on how they can support a victim of sexual assault or harassment.

UConn agreed in July 2014 to pay $1.3 million to settle a lawsuit by five women who alleged the school did not take seriously their claims of sexual assaults on campus.

School spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz says the intent of the website is to make the school’s Title IX system easy to navigate.