Sexual assault has become a national conversation, and according to new survey results, Ohio State students are listening.
Ohio State student awareness of reporting methods and resources for sexual assault survivors has increased 11 percent over the past four years. However, the prevalence of nonconsensual sexual activity has also increased across several demographics, according to the results of the university’s fourth campus climate survey.
The 2019 survey collected data on students’ reports on their experiences with “nonconsensual sexual activity and or sexual misconduct and associated consequences, attitudes about the campus climate surrounding sexual misconduct, and knowledge and use of their universities’ resources and policies,” according to a press release. Ohio State was one of 33 institutions that participated in the second multi-institutional Campus Climate Survey, and 7,443 students responded from Ohio State, the release states.
“We’re pleased that the survey shows increasing numbers of students understand how sexual assault and misconduct is defined, where to make a report, and where to get help,” university spokesperson Ben Johnson said an email. “The survey data does not point to a specific reason for increased nonconsensual sexual activity, but a better understanding of what constitutes sexual assault and misconduct should lead to more accurate reporting.”
Katherine Lasher, associate vice president for institutional equity, said in the release that the results of the survey show that the university’s messages to students are working.
“Preventing sexual assault and misconduct and fostering a culture of respect are our primary goals,” Lasher said. “Communicating to this large student body about what constitutes sexual misconduct and how to access resources they might need someday is extremely important. Seeing an upward trend in awareness is a good sign that our efforts are effective and our students want information about the university’s resources and policies.”
In 2019, 39 percent of students were “very or extremely knowledgeable” about where they can get help on campus if they are a victim of sexual assault or sexual misconduct — a four percent jump from 2015, and two percent higher than the national average, according to the release.
In 2019, 32 percent of students knew where to file a report regarding sexual assault or misconduct at Ohio State, matching the national average and increasing from 21 percent in 2015, the release states.
In comparison to 37 percent of students nationally knowing how their university defined sexual assault and misconduct, 51 percent of Ohio State students in 2019 know the university’s definition, according to the release.
The survey also concluded that the prevalence of nonconsensual sexual activity “has not changed dramatically” over the past four years, though it has increased.
In 2019, 24.9 percent of female undergraduate respondents reported “experiences of nonconsensual sexual intercourse or sexual touching by physical force, threats of physical force or inability to consent since they had enrolled at the institution,” an increase from 24 percent in 2015.
In 2019,13.3 percent of female graduate students reported similar experiences, up from 9.7 percent in 2015, according to the release.
Male undergraduate reports with this experience increased from 5.3 percent in 2015 to six percent in 2019, while male graduate reports decreased from 3.2 percent to 3.1 percent.
Students who identify as transgender, genderqueer or nonbinary, questioning or not listed on the survey reported that 26.8 percent experienced noncensensual sexual activity in 2019, an increase from 22.7 percent in 2015.