Survey: 15 percent of women on UT campus report being raped

University of Texas at Austin fountain (KXAN Photo)
University of Texas at Austin fountain and tower (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (AP/KXAN) — A survey of University of Texas undergraduates reports that 15 percent of women reported being raped on the flagship Austin campus.

The figure was revealed Thursday during a state Senate committee hearing by State Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston. Survey respondents said those reported rapes often came by force, threat of force, coercion or while the victim was impaired or otherwise incapacitated.

UT President Greg Fenves tweeted of the report’s findings, “It’s a wake-up for all of us.”

Senators heard four bills designed to reduce campus sexual assaults, including one ensuring that students aren’t punished by school conduct codes for underage drinking or other rules violations if they report an assault.

For the report, titled Cultivating Learning and Safe Environments, 7,684 undergraduate and graduate students were randomly selected and anonymously answered an online questionnaire.

It has long been known that sexual crimes are under-reported. Staying true to that, 68 percent of participants in UT’s survey said they had never told anyone about being victimized before. Only 2 percent of those who did said they told police. Most turned to a friend.

“When individuals experience this trauma they’re telling, if they tell anyone, a friend. So, we are making sure that our student peers, our bystander intervention program is expanded in order to prepare individuals if they hear that information, they know how to support them and where to direct them to references and referrals accordingly,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Maurie McInnis.

Of victims who disclosed they experienced unwanted sexual contact, 69 percent of them said they had used alcohol or drugs before the incident.

The survey also disclosed that only 10 percent of students who had been in a relationship during their time on campus reported having experiences physical violence.

The report also sheds light on questionable activities involving UT employees.

Students reporting gender harassment by a UT faculty or staff member totaled 20 percent. One percent of students said they were sexually coerced by a faculty or staff member. Eighty-one percent of sexually charged acts reported by staff at UT were said to be done by men.

“This is a wake-up call to us; we want to ensure that every student feels comfortable coming forward, reporting their experiences and knowing that we will investigate and that we will discipline employees appropriately relating to sexual harassment,” said McInnis.

The survey results will immediately spur the need for sexual violence prevention initiatives on campus. No date has been set when they will begin.

Future plans include a centralized reporting location for victims.

Editor’s Note: Information attributed to a UT spokesperson, incorrectly identified in this story, has been removed. 

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