Yale shares results of 2019 AAU survey on sexual assault and misconduct

Branford Hall at Yale

The Association of American Universities (AAU) today released the results of its 2019 Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct. Yale participated in the first AAU survey in 2015 and again in spring 2019. In a message to the community, Yale President Peter Salovey shared an introduction to the Yale-specific results by University Title IX Coordinator Dr. Stephanie Spangler, vice provost for health affairs and academic integrity. Spangler’s introduction provides the Yale community with an in-depth overview of the survey.

Sexual misconduct has no place at Yale or anywhere,” said Salovey. “Each of us must work daily to build an environment of respect — a place where all are supported in fulfilling our mission to improve the world. This is a goal we share with our colleagues on campuses around the country. By participating in the 2015 and 2019 AAU surveys, we have joined our peers to gather data to inform our actions. Yale’s 2019 survey results tell us that increased community engagement has improved awareness of university resources and bystander intervention. This is encouraging progress, but I am deeply disturbed by the number of students who have experienced sexual assault, harassment, intimate partner violence, or stalking. Now, we must build on our community engagement efforts to reinforce Yale’s high standards of conduct. I ask every student and member of faculty and staff to join me in creating and sustaining a community that is free of sexual misconduct.”

Like its 2015 predecessor, the survey was organized by the AAU and conducted by Westat, a nationally recognized research organization. The survey, which was offered to undergraduate, graduate and professional students at Yale and 32 peer colleges and universities, collected information about students’ experiences of sexual misconduct and their perceptions of the campus’ sexual climate. It also included questions about community engagement, bystander intervention behavior, and students’ use of campus resources.

In her introduction, Spangler noted several overarching goals in offering the survey: to expand information about the prevalence of sexual misconduct on campus; to assess the impact of Yale’s efforts since the 2015 survey; and to use the survey data to inform ongoing initiatives to combat sexual misconduct and foster a campus culture in which all students feel safe, respected, and supported. “We are extremely grateful to the students who participated in the survey,” she said. “Thanks to their generosity we now have a deeper understanding of what is happening on our campus and a powerful guide for future action.”

Spangler said that in reviewing the findings in the 2019 survey alongside Yale’s 2015 survey results, there were some signs of progress in addressing sexual misconduct at Yale. For example, in 2019 students reported higher levels of awareness and increased use of Yale’s resources to address sexual misconduct. They also reported experiencing lower rates of harassing behaviors and intimate partner violence. That said, there are also a number of areas where signs of progress are lacking, noted Spangler. Notably, survey-estimated rates of sexual assault — a term that encompasses a broad range of experiences — were somewhat higher than in 2015. 

Yale has also asked the AAU to provide school-specific data for the graduate and professional schools. The deans of those schools are currently analyzing the raw data and will release the information to their respective communities by late November.

While the 2019 survey has added invaluably to Yale’s growing fund of information about the sexual climate at Yale, said Spangler, the introduction and the Yale-Westat report reflect only a preliminary analysis of the survey data. Ongoing analyses will add to Yale’s understanding of correlations and trends among students’ experiences and perceptions. Additionally, the findings from the 2019 survey will be used to help schools and departments develop follow-up projects to better understand their local climates.

It is my hope that the survey findings will fortify the community engagement that has shaped so many of our programs and resources and advanced our efforts to create a campus culture where all can thrive,” said Spangler. “Toward that end, I encourage you to read the report, invite you to provide comments and suggestions to my office, and ask you to consider attending one of the venues we will create for community conversation, not only about the report itself but also about ways we can continue to work together to address sexual misconduct at Yale.”

Salovey encouraged the community to read the full report on Yale’s Title IX website. Yale’s Sexual Misconduct Response & Prevention website also provides information about resources and options if you or someone you know has experienced sexual misconduct.

For immediate support, contact Sexual Harassment and Assault Response & Education (SHARE) at 203-432-2000 or use the LiveSafe app. SHARE’s confidential services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Media Contact

Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326