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Survey: 10% of female college students assaulted

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A survey of students on 27 college campuses released Monday finds about 1 in 10 female students say they have experienced sexual assault by force or incapacitation, WJXT reports.

According to the Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, a survey of 150,072 students conducted by the Association of American Universities and released at the University of Florida, 6.9 percent of women and 9 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer students in the survey were assaulted.

And half to three-quarters of students at each of the campuses surveyed have some degree of experienced sexual harassment.

However, even among those who experienced the most serious crimes, such as penetrative rape, only about 1 in 4 students said they reported their attacks to either their school or law enforcement.

AAU's survey is one of the largest ever done on sexual violence among college students in the United States.

At the University of Florida, the voluntary survey was distributed to 12,000 randomly selected students in April in an effort to learn their knowledge, attitudes and experiences regarding sexual violence.

"UF volunteered to participate in this survey because of the importance of this issue. The survey gives us the ability to learn about our students' experiences and use that data to make our community a safer one for all students," Dean of Students Jen Day Shaw said. "At UF, every Gator counts."

With almost 17 percent of UF students responding, the survey results will be used to further develop programs and initiatives that educate the student community regarding inappropriate behavior, available resources, ways to report and resolution options.

UF's findings generally mirror student responses from the other top-tier universities that participated in the study and align with similar recent national surveys of sexual assault and misconduct on college campuses.

One in five UF female undergraduate students indicated they have experienced some type of sexual assault ranging from sexual touching such as groping to unwanted penetration since entering UF. Five percent of male undergraduates reported the same.

17.6 percent of non-heterosexual UF students reported experiencing nonconsensual penetration or sexual touching involving physical force or incapacitation, compared with 10.6 percent for heterosexuals.

In responding to questions concerning sexual harassment, which includes offensive comments and jokes, the offender's affiliation to the university was described nearly 92 percent of the time as another student; more than 70 percent of students who said they were harassed said the offender was a friend or acquaintance.

The survey also looked at whether female victims of sexual assault and sexual misconduct report it to either the university or another organization, such as law enforcement. Of female students who responded that they had been victims of penetration by physical force:
58 percent said they did not report the behavior because they did not think it was serious enough to report;
23 percent did not report the incident because they did not think anything would be done about it;
18 percent did not report because they feared the information would not be kept confidential; and
27 percent did not report because they felt embarrassed or ashamed.

The survey revealed that more than two-thirds of UF students believe that a report of sexual assault or sexual misconduct would be taken seriously by campus officials. Sixty percent said it was very or extremely likely that the safety of those reporting incidents of sexual assault and sexual misconduct would be protected by university officials.

The benchmark data provided by the survey will help the university focus efforts on opportunities for improvement. The university-wide Title IX Committee will use the results to identify gaps and determine priorities.