Campus Climate Survey released; sexual misconduct numbers reported

Oct. 2, 2015, 3:59 a.m.

On Thursday, Stanford released the results of its Campus Climate Survey, administered confidentially online in spring 2015. According to the survey, 1.9 percent of respondents have experienced sexual assault, as defined in the University policy, since starting their degree programs at Stanford, and 14.2 percent have experienced another form of sexual misconduct.

The survey was sent to all 15,368 degree-seeking University students over the age of 18 and received responses from 66 percent and 53 percent of the undergraduate and graduate communities, respectively – a total response rate of 59 percent.

In the questionnaire, students were asked to evaluate the campus, culture and safety at Stanford, as well as University policies and procedures. A major aspect of the survey was a section where students could report instances of sexual misconduct and harassment.

According to information on Stanford’s Office of the Provost webpage, Stanford administered the survey to gain student insight, specifically on the “frequency and nature of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, relationship violence and other sexual misconduct involving our students.” This is the first time that the administration has chosen to publicly share the survey results.

In an email announcing the results to students, faculty and staff, President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy Ph.D. ’82 highlighted the significance of the survey.

“Understanding student experiences and perspectives is critical to our ability to make progress on this subject as a community,” they wrote. “Despite the progress that has been made, the survey findings underscore the further work yet to do.”

Addressing concerns

The results of the survey will be used to evaluate Stanford’s policies around sexual harassment and sexual assault, including education on prevention and awareness and improving the resources available to students.  A summary of these results with also be shared with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the federal institution that enforces Title IX.

Information from the survey will also determine how the University implements the recommendations from the Task Force on Sexual Assault Policies and Practices that Etchemendy convened last year.

Several of the suggested implementations include a revised adjudication process for sexual assault that moves to combine the Title IX investigation process and the Office of Community Standards’ Alternative Review Process (ARP) into one streamlined review. The new process will use panels to evaluate alleged instances of sexual assault. Stanford is also looking to hire more counselors on the confidential support team, increasing the number of full-time staff for victims of sexual assault from two to five.

Survey results on personal experiences

Though 87 percent of surveyed students reported feeling “extremely safe or very safe” on campus, there are still aspects of campus climate that need to be addressed.

During their time on campus, 77 percent of surveyed undergraduate students and 51 percent of surveyed graduate students reported having witnessed sexist jokes and remarks directed towards women. Fifty-six percent of undergraduate respondents and 23 percent of graduate students have witnessed similar behavior directed towards LGBTQ people while at Stanford.

When broken down by gender, 4.7 percent of undergraduate women and 6.6 percent of gender-diverse undergraduates have experienced sexual assault, while 32.9 percent of female undergraduate respondents and 30.8 percent of gender-diverse undergraduate respondents reported experiencing a different type of sexual misconduct.

Furthermore, 85 percent of survey participants who had experienced nonconsensual sexual contact stated that the responsible parties in the most recent incident were Stanford students, and 71 percent said that the incident took place in an on-campus residential building. Forty-one percent had no relationship with the responsible person or people prior to the incident.

Hennessy’s and Etchmendy’s email expressed their concern over these numbers.

“To us, any number above zero is unacceptable,” the email said.

The survey also addressed instances of stalking behavior – the most common being relentless text messages and phone calls that continued even after the person was asked to stop. Eleven percent of students surveyed reported being stalked in some form while at Stanford.

Among survey respondents, 5.3 percent who have been intimately involved with another while at Stanford said they have experienced some instance of relationship violence since starting their degree program at Stanford.

Survey results on University policies

Eighty-seven percent of respondents were confident that Stanford would take reports of sexual assault seriously.

Stanford’s definition of sexual assault is based on California criminal rape and sexual offense statutes. This includes any nonconsensual sexual act, including intercourse, digital penetration, oral sex or penetration with a foreign object through the use of force, violence, duress, menace, inducement of incapacitation or knowingly taking advantage of an incapacitated person.

Sexual misconduct includes non-consensual penetration or oral sex without the condition of force, violence, duress, menace or incapacitation that is involved in a sexual assault under state law and Stanford policy. Sexual misconduct also encompasses acts of sexual touching without consent and some acts of clothing removal without consent.

The survey reported mixed results in terms of University policies for sexual assault education and prevention. Over two-thirds of undergraduate respondents believed that Stanford has provided them with at least adequate education about sexual assault prevention, and three-quarters reported understanding the concept of consent. For graduate student participants, only 43 percent reported adequate education and 55 percent understood consent.

Fifty-seven percent of undergraduate students and 50 percent of graduate students said they would know where to seek confidential help for themselves or a friend in the case of sexual assault or harassment.

Undergraduate students were especially critical of the University support system for all forms of personal crises, not just sexual assault. Fifty-six percent and 48 percent of surveyed undergraduate women and men, respectively, who expressed an opinion on the question said current resources are insufficient. Of those respondents, those identifying as gender-diverse tended to give the system lower ratings – 85 percent felt the services were inadequate.

Hennessy and Etchemendy urged students, faculty and staff to read the full report themselves and become involved in changing the campus climate at Stanford.

“These are concerning issues for us, but they also are vital issues that require the attention and engagement of all members of our campus community,” the email said. “We must all play a role in developing solutions and modeling behavior that makes clear that sexual violence and sexual misconduct are unacceptable at Stanford.”

A full report of the findings can be found on the Provost’s website.


An earlier version of this article incorrectly generalized three of the statistics. The Daily regrets these errors.

Contact Sophie Stuber at sstuber ‘at’

Sophie Stuber is a senior from Aspen, Colorado, studying International Relations, French and Creative Writing. Sophie has written for the Daily since freshman year . This year, she spends a significant portion of her time working on her thesis, which is about designing an international legal framework to aid people forcibly displaced due to climate change. Aside from academics, Sophie loves reading, writing short stories, listening to NPR, and adventuring outside. Any of her friends will tell you that she loves to talk about the mountains, skiing, Atlantic articles, and Rebecca Solnit essays.

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