What You Should Know About Sexual Assault on College Campuses

In recent years, sexual assault cases on college campuses have risen with 1 in 5 females and 1 in 16 males claiming they are victims of sexual assault. Reports of sexual assault include allegations of sexual harassment, rape, and violence on college campuses across the country. According to the Association of American Universities (AAU), American colleges have a 13% rate of non-consensual sexual contact.

Some Campuses See Higher Rates Than Others

In 2014, the highest numbers of campus sexual assaults occurred at Brown University and the University of Connecticut. While 43 students on each campus reported being sexually assaulted, many assaults took place at off-campus fraternity houses and social events where alcohol and drugs were accessible.

Between 2015 and 2019, a total of 181,752 students from 33 colleges and universities, including 32 AAU member schools, participated in studies researching campus sexual assaults. Surveys were taken to address the growing problem of sexual assault on college campuses. The results showed a pattern of behaviors that may aid in future prevention measures by schools:

  • 13% of all college students experience sexual assault or rape by physical force, which often includes violence or incapacitation by alcohol or drugs
  • Female students age 18-24 are 20% less likely than non-students of the same age group to become victims of sexual assault
  • Male students age 18-24 are 78% more likely than non-students of the same age group to become victims of sexual assault
  • 6 % of college students experience stalking by another student
  • Over 50% of college sexual assaults occur in August, September, October, or November
  • Students entering college have a higher risk of sexual assault during the first few months of their first and second semesters

Preventing Campus Assault

Colleges and universities are aware of growing sexual assaults on campus. School officials have a duty to protect students from harm and keep students safe on campus. Most colleges work closely with local law enforcement agencies and have sworn officials on staff who are legally permitted to make arrests on and off campus grounds. Among four-year colleges and universities with at least 2,500 students or more, 75% employ armed officers who patrol campuses 24 hours a day.

While many sexual assault victims file reports with law enforcement officials, a large number of assaults go unreported, making liability for injuries impossible. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 80% of sexual assault cases go unreported by victims due to shame and embarrassment, self-blame, and fear of reprisal. Studies show that 80% of victims know their perpetrators and don’t want to press charges that may result in arrest and jail time.

While laws are in place to prevent sexual assaults, colleges and universities struggle to protect students. In 2016, reports by the American Association of Women show that 89% of 11,000 colleges studied did not disclose rape statistics on campuses. Under federal guidelines, academic institutions are required to file annual reports that provide statistics for sex crimes. The law provides a 30-day turnaround time for schools to file a report, starting from the date the victim reports the sexual assault. However, many reports don’t indicate how schools resolve the incident, protect students from harm, or punish the perpetrator for sexual assault.

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