The statistics surrounding sexual assaults on college campuses are alarming. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. More than 90 percent of campus sexual assaults go unreported. Action needs to be taken to assuage fear, prevent future assaults, and instill a sense of safety in students.
We are aware of the issue, yet the epidemic continues to grow. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, some of our sexual assault statistics are higher than the previously listed national averages. UW-Madison, in collaboration with the Association of American Universities (AAU), administered a climate survey in April and May 2015 to students on campus to collect sexual assault data for our community. Approximately 9,000 (22.2 percent) UW-Madison students participated in the survey.
Of the many findings, the survey found that:
- 27.6% (more than 1 in 4) of UW-Madison female undergrad students experienced sexual assault;
- 98% of perpetrators on the UW-Madison campus were identified as male;
- Only 54.1% of students thought that campus officials were very or extremely likely to conduct a fair investigation;
- Only 45.9% thought it was very or extremely likely that UW-Madison would take action against the offender;
- And only 39.2% thought it was very or extremely likely that UW-Madison would take action to address issues of sexual assault and misconduct on campus.
The UW-Madison Campus Crime Warnings are ever-present reminders of how common these crimes are in our community. Of the six that I have received this year, five have been reports of sexual assaults, sexual harassment or intimate partner violence. How many more assaults occur that we don’t even hear about? This infuriates me and fills me with despair. This is the school I attend and the community my peers and I call home.
As a student, I have been ogled, catcalled, and harassed while out on the weekends. Too many others that I know have been assaulted and raped. How have we let our society come to the point where not only this type of encounter is prevalent, but anticipated in social settings? Whether it was being inappropriately groped on the dance floor or harassed on the sidewalk, we experienced this epidemic as normal in our culture. A change in our ability to address this violence needs to be made.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking please know that you are believed, you are supported, and you are loved. Help is available: www.evoc.wisc.edu
Written by Kelly Crooks, UHS EVOC Project Assistant getting her Masters in Social Work.