University President Mark Schlissel spoke at a conference today following the release of survey results from the University’s Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Misconduct that Schlissel said sought to conduct a “thorough, transparent and honest self-examination” of sexual misconduct on campus.
Accompanying Schlissel at the conference were William Axinn, a professor at the Institute for Social Research, and Holly Rider-Milkovich, director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center.
The survey, which Schlissel announced on January 12, was distributed to 3,000 randomly selected students throughout the spring semester.
In response to the survey’s results, Schlissel said the University is taking immediate action by increasing the number of staff members involved in handling sexual misconduct on campus in addition to moving forward with a review of the current Sexual Misconduct Policy.
“We are adding staff to help us develop and deliver the best possible prevention and education programs, to speed up sexual misconduct investigations and to help counsel and support survivors,” Schlissel said.
While the timeliness of the University’s process in handling sexual misconduct cases has been a criticism in the past, Schlissel said due to the complex nature of sexual misconduct cases, the University is seeking to “make sure that our process is both fair and thorough.”
In 2013, the University received national attention following the University’s decision to permanently separate from Brendan Gibbons, the Michigan football team’s starting kicker, four years after allegedly violating the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Highlighting survey results relating to number of reported instances of sexual misconduct, Schlissel said only a “small fraction” of sexual misconduct incidents are reported — an issue Schlissel said needs to be further addressed by the University. Rider-Milkovich cited the need to adjust current methods of educating students on sexual misconduct, saying work needs to be done to ensure students feel safe and comfortable reporting instances of sexual misconduct.
“This data is critically important to our work on this campus because it provides institution specific information for the first time that we will use to shape additional prevention efforts going forward as well as identifying increased efforts educating our students on our policies, our resources, and to strengthen and refine our already existing significant educational efforts, which include four trainings for our incoming students,” Rider-Milkovich said.
Survey results show that 51 percent of female undergraduates and 39.2 percent of male undergraduates have attended or participated in Relationship Remix, a University program created for first-year students that seeks to educate students on relationships, sex and decision-making.
Data from the survey revealed that 42 percent of respondents were “very likely” to report incidents of sexual assault to the University’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center.
Another initiative Rider-Milkovich said is new to the University is the expansion of educational and prevention programs for graduate and professional students.
Schlissel said though some of the survey's content was explicit, the level of the survey’s detail should help the University determine what methods of prevention and support are working, and gaining a more clear understanding of to which avenues students feel most comfortable reporting cases of sexual assault.
The survey asked students to identify themselves in different demographics, an aspect of this survey that Schlissel said is unique to the University. According to the survey, females are 7.7 times more likely to experience non-consensual oral, vaginal or anal sex than males. Sorority and fraternity members are 2.5 times more likely to experience non-consensual oral, vaginal or anal sex than average students.
Axinn said verbal pressure was another particularly important new finding discovered through the survey.
Eight percent of female undergraduates answered yes when asked if verbal pressuring was involved in their experiences of non consensual oral, vaginal, or anal sex — a finding Schlissel and Axinn cited as significant and new.
Finally, the survey found that among undergraduate students who did experience some form of sexual misconduct, 41.2 percent of sexual misconduct cases occurred off-campus.
“This was a baseline survey,” Schlissel said. “We intend to discuss the findings more broadly in the fall with our student, faculty and staff.”
This is a developing story. Stay with The Michigan Daily for an updated analysis of the survey’s data.
Correction: A previous version of this article included inaccurate references to a previously published article, and those references have been removed. This article was also updated to clarify a distinction between the University's Campus Climate survey and a survey administered by the Association of American Universities in April.