Survey: Some Students Don't Think UT Officials Take Sexual Assault Reports Seriously
About one in five female undergraduates at the University of Texas at Austin experienced some type of sexual assault or misconduct while in college, according to a newly released survey by the Association of American Universities.
The AAU found the chances of students’ reporting sexual assault depends on the situation: if physical force was involved, if the student was verbally coerced into having sex, or if drugs and alcohol were involved.
“There are very different consequences, these events are different, how they report to university are different, who does it is very different," says David Cantor, the Vice President of Westat, the research firm that administered the survey. "So it’s important to slice and dice the types of events very carefully.”
The survey also found only three out of five students were confident that UT would take a report of sexual assault seriously.
About 44 percent thought the university would take action against an offender, and less than half of students thought UT Austin would conduct a fair investigation into the report. LaToya Hill is UT’s Title IX Coordinator, which handles sexual assault reports on campus. Hill says UT needs to use this information to ask the right questions and improve campus climate.
“What is inhibiting people from coming forward? What’s causing the perception that an investigation is not fair or taken seriously on our campus? I think we have to go in a grassroots type of way and really just listen to students."
Many students who answered the survey said they did not report instances of assault with penetration by physical force because they did not believe UT would do anything about it, feared it would not be kept confidential, or felt embarrassed.
UT Austin is one of 27 universities nationwide that participated in the survey. Students were asked to participate via email.
One in five of the UT female undergraduates surveyed reported being the victim of some type of sexual assault while in college — including an assault by force or being too intoxicated to consent.