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Sunday, October 2, 2022

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SDSU Releases Results of Campus Sexual Violence Survey

Benchmark findings show rates of sexual violence on campus well below national averages.
By Jill Esterbrooks

The vast majority of San Diego State University students surveyed say they feel safe on campus, are aware of university's affirmative consent policy, know about reporting processes and victim resources and feel ready to intervene to prevent sexual violence from occurring on campus.

These are among the survey findings being released by SDSU officials as part of ongoing efforts to increase awareness of prevention and response programs as well as decrease incidents of sexual violence on and off campus.

In spring of 2015, SDSU sent surveys to more than 30,000 students and achieved a 33 percent response rate from the anonymous questionnaire.  Following guideline recommendations from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, the survey asked students about: assault/violence on or near campus; attitudes about sexually related violence; inclination to intervene or help in response to sexual violence; and awareness of sexual violence related services and policies.

“We wanted a better understanding of incidence and student feelings on safety and response,” said Jessica Rentto, SDSU’s Associate Vice President of Administration.

SDSU officials plan to use the survey results as a benchmark to determine where to focus education, prevention and response efforts.  Every two years students will be surveyed to measure the campus climate and adjust resources and programming as needed.

“The initial survey responses told us we are doing a good job, but there is still work that remains to better educate students and help reduce the risk of sexual violence in the campus community,” said Rentto.

The survey results were released at a community-wide awareness event on April 28 as part of an ongoing series of conversations and programs conducted by SDSU’s Sexual Violence Task Force.  It also coincides with Take Back the Week, an annual event organized by student group Aztecs for Awareness in collaboration with SDSU's Title IV Department and the Associated Students Association, focusing on sexual violence awareness, transparency and prevention.

While the ultimate goal is to eliminate every single incident, SDSU’s prevalence rates of sexual violence are well below national averages, said Emilio C. Ulloa, Director of SDSU’s Educational Opportunity Program/Ethnic Affairs who oversaw the survey project.   Only six percent of respondents reported that they had experienced sexual assault since coming to SDSU.

When presented with a range of sexual experience situations, 15 percent of SDSU students reported having experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact or violence (most in the category of unwanted fondling, kissing or rubbing).

The university’s rates are considerably lower than other national figures often cited that show one in five women (or about 20 percent) report having been sexually assaulted at least once during their college experience.

Other survey findings

  • 92 percent of students believe they understand how SDSU defines affirmative consent to engage in sexual activity.
  • Nearly all (98 percent) of all students do not believe that a person can give consent when they are being threatened or coerced.
  • Most SDSU students (65 percent) reported being very ready to intervene in some capacity when witnessing sexual assault.
  • Sixty-one percent strongly disagree with the statement “when a woman is raped, it is often because the way she said “no” was unclear.”
  • Only 56 percent of all students believe that at SDSU, sexual acts are considered non-consensual if a person is incapacitated from alcohol or drugs.
  • The rate of any sexual assault was 23 percent among those who lived in university housing and 7.7 percent among those who did not live in university housing.
  • The rates of sexual assault are lower among men (10 percent) than either women (19 percent) or those who don’t identify as either male or female (14 percent).
  • Those who identify as bisexual or other (e.g. trans or gender fluid) are at highest risk for experiencing sexual assault (29 percent) compared to heterosexual men and women.
  • The results suggest that American Indian/Alaska Natives have the highest rate of any sexual assault (26.7 percent). By comparison, Hispanic/Latinos have the lowest rate of any sexual assault (14.1 percent).
  • The rate of sexual assault among those involved in sororities is higher (27 percent) than any other group and higher than the overall campus rate.
  • Slightly more than 4 percent of the sample perceived that they have been stalked since attending campus, and just over 8 percent meet a stricter legal standard of experiencing unwanted harassment that elicited fear or a sense of threat.
  • Approximately 85 percent of those experiencing unwanted harassment or stalking are female.

For more information about SDSU’s Sexual Violence Task Force as well as the 2016 Campus Sexual Violence Survey Results Study Report and Executive Summary, visit the university’s Title IX website.