Nearly one in four college women have experienced sexual assault at school according to the latest survey

Nearly one in four college women have experienced sexual assault at school according to the latest survey

Almost one quarter of all female college students have experienced sexual assault or unwanted fondling or kissing during their time in school, according to a national survey released on Monday.

The survey of 150,000 students was commissioned by the Association of American Universities (AAU), and seems to confirm previous studies suggesting that about one in five or one in four female undergraduates are sexually assaulted while in college.

The AAU defines sexual assault as actions or incidents ranging from “sexual harassment, stalking, and intimate partner violence” to “nonconsensual penetration.”

The survey was conducted in April and May of this year and involved students at 27 universities, including Harvard University, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Virginia. As was expected, the results of the survey varied among schools with some colleges releasing their own studies, says the Boston Globe.

At Harvard, the number of sexual assaults was a little higher than the results from the other 27 schools, with 25.5 percent of women saying they had been sexually assaulted. On learning the results of the survey, Harvard President Drew G. Faust called the results “deeply Disturbing.”

“Sexual assault is intolerable, and we owe it to one another to confront it openly, purposefully, and effectively,” Faust wrote in a campus-wide letter Monday. “This is our problem.”

The schools emailed the questionnaires to 780,000 students, and overall, 20 percent of the surveys were filled out and returned. According to survey results, many of those who completed the survey may have been more likely to report being sexually assaulted. A little over five percent of male undergraduates reported being sexually assaulted, according to Newsweek.

Interestingly, more than half of those filling out the survey who had been sexually assaulted said they did not report the incidents because they didn’t think it was serious enough. Other reasons for failing to report incidents included embarrassment, shame, difficulty with the emotional aspects of the incident, or believing nothing would be done.

Sexual assault has become a growing issue on college campuses, reports Reuters, with the White House getting into the fray last April, calling on college officials to improve their handling of sexual assault complaints. According to the survey, only 5 to 25 percent of serious incidents were reported to school officials. Only 28 percent were reported to police.

Even though sexual assaults have been tied to drug use or alcohol, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that unwanted or forced sexual misconduct is criminal, regardless of the circumstances. Colleges and universities have their work cut out for them in bringing a halt to this problem.

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