association of American universities
Prospective students and their parents approach Healy Hall during a campus tour of Georgetown University in Washington, DC, USA, 12 March 2019. | Photo Credit: JIM LO SCALZO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Association of American Universities Finds Widespread Sexual Assault, Abuse at 33 Universities

The Association of American Universities made an unsurprising but disturbing discovery from its most recent survey of students at 33 major universities. The Washington Post reported that about one-quarter of female undergraduate students have been sexually assaulted or molested, either by penetration or touching, since they started at university.

According to the survey, 25.9% of female undergraduates had experienced nonconsensual sexual contact through physical force or because they were unable to give consent for various reasons.

The Association of American Universities conducted a 2015 study that had similar results. It surveyed some of the same universities and found widespread sexual abuse and assault, according to the respondents.

Despite the grim statistics showing many women have experienced sexual assault and abuse, there were some positives reflecting the changes in American culture and society since the #MeToo movement began and the 2015 survey was conducted. The association’s most recent survey found that more students understand what sexual assault is and know where survivors can get help.

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But that doesn’t mean that students are using that knowledge and understanding to get help for themselves or others.

The survey found that most survivors of sexual violence do not contact aid offices because they think they can handle the issue themselves, they don’t think the incidents of sexual violence are bad enough or they’re ashamed.

“The results provide cause for both hope and continued concern,” AAU President Mary Sue Coleman said in a statement. “They reveal that while students know more about university-sponsored resources for victims of sexual assault and misconduct, they still aren’t using these resources often enough.”

The universities surveyed include some of the most prestigious in the country — Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Virginia, Harvard, Yale, Brown universities and the University of Pennsylvania.

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