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Survey: Quarter of women at UW-Madison sexually assaulted



File photo - UW-Madison classroom

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — More than a quarter of University of Wisconsin-Madison undergraduate women who responded to a survey said they have been sexually assaulted since they entered college, the school said Tuesday.

UW-Madison participated in the Association of American Universities survey (results here) this spring along with 32 other colleges. School officials said 7,697 students, including 1,980 graduate students, answered the questionnaire. Women made up 64% of the respondents.

The survey defines sexual assault as penetration or sexual touching perpetrated by physical force or an inability to consent. According to the survey’s preliminary findings, 26.1% of female undergraduate respondents said they had been sexually assaulted since they entered UW-Madison, compared with about 7% of male undergraduate respondents.

Slightly more than 13% of female graduate students said they had been sexually assaulted since they entered UW-Madison, compared with almost 4% percent of male graduate student respondents. About 28% of students identifying as transgender, genderqueer, gender-questioning or who didn’t list their gender said they had been sexually assaulted.

The victim or perpetrator had consumed alcohol in about three-quarters of the assaults, the survey found. About 87% of the sexual assaults went unreported.

The results closely mirror UW-Madison student responses to a similar AAU survey in 2015. That survey found that 27.6% of responding female undergraduates and 5.4% of male undergraduates said they had been sexually assaulted since entering college. About 12% of female undergraduates, 3% of male undergraduates and 29% of TGQN students said they had been assaulted.

The 2019 survey also found that nearly 62% of female undergraduates, 40% of female graduate students and 62% of TGQN students said they had been sexually harassed since they entered UW-Madison. The vast majority of perpetrators were fellow students, the survey respondents said.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a statement that the campus must strengthen efforts to reduce sexual assault and increase reporting. The university has scheduled three forums next month to discuss the undergraduate results, the graduate student results and underrepresented students’ results.

UW-Madison’s summary of the survey findings noted that since 2015, the school has required all new undergraduate and transfer students to attend in-person training on sexual assault prevention and has required all employees to undergo training on how to prevent sexual harassment. The university also has created a full-time Title IX coordinator position. Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sexual discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding.

Going forward, the school plans to hire an additional sexual assault victim counselor and apply to join National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Culture of Respect Collective, a group of higher education institutions dedicated to ending campus sexual violence.

Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter: https://twitter.com/trichmond1

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