Campus Climate Survey: The State of Sexual Assault on Campus
On Sunday October 15th, in response to the sexual assault scandal surrounding film producer and studio executive Harvey Weinstein, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, encouraging women to write “Me Too” as their status in order to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” According to The Washington Post, by Monday afternoon, close to half a million people had tweeted “Me Too” and over to 600,000 people were talking about it on Facebook.
The issue of sexual assault commonly arises in conversations on college campuses, and, despite Yeshiva University’s separate campuses and undergraduate classes, the subject is not absent from the YU conversation. During the Spring 2017 semester, the university’s Campus Climate Committee conducted a Campus Climate Survey in order to “ascertain general awareness and knowledge of the University’s prevention and response to sexual assault.” As a regulatory requirement for the university, the results were published online by The Office of Institutional Research.
639 responses were recorded, constituting 13% of YU’s undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students. 56.9% of the respondents identified as female, and the majority of responses came from undergraduate students.
The survey posed questions pertaining to the “well being” of Yeshiva University students, with 91% of responses either “Strongly Agree[ing]” or “Agree[ing]” to the statement that “YU is trying hard to make sure that all students are safe.”
83 students, 13% of those who responded, stated having experienced some form of sexual harassment such as “sexual advances, gestures…or jokes,” or being sent “sexual pictures, photos, or videos.” Just under two percent, 13 students, indicated having been victim to unwanted sexual contact at least once in the past year. The majority of these incidents were reported as being perpetrated by a male, with seven of the victims who responded indicating that the assailants were YU students.
Respondents were also asked whether they reported the event to an authority such as the local police, YU security, or the Dean of Students; nine of the thirteen respondents answered that they had not reported the event. Yael Muskat, Director of the Yeshiva University Counseling Center, said “Often, victims of sexual assault do not seek professional help to cope with the emotional impact of the event. We want to encourage students to reach out for support from the Counseling Center, among other resources.”
The Counseling Center was most reported as being helpful after the event. “It is difficult to generate conclusions based on such a small sample size,” Muskat commented, “however, it is encouraging to note that the students who did seek emotional support at the Counseling Center felt that it was helpful to them... Survivors of sexual assault can feel a range of emotions, including isolation, shame, and guilt and talking with a therapist, along with getting support from loved ones and friends, is often an important part of the healing process.”
No respondents reported finding the Title IX Coordinator helpful.
In addition to surveying the amount of sexual harassment and assault on campus, the survey examined incidents of stalking, spying and vandalism of personal property. 14% of student responders affirmed such incidents.
The survey concluded with general questions regarding the overall view YU students have towards the university’s response to sexual assault. The results indicated that the majority of respondents agree that Yeshiva University considers assault a critical issue and would take serious measures to rectify such issues if they were to occur.
This article has been updated since its original publication.