BYU has completed and published its report on a survey conducted earlier this year about incidents of sexual misconduct, awareness of resources for victims and perceptions of the campus on this issue.
Forty-three percent of BYU students completed the survey.
“The level of student participation in the BYU climate survey far exceeds that of many other institutions who have conducted similar surveys,” said Professor Lindsay Orchowski of Brown University, a national expert on sexual assault on college campuses who consulted with BYU in the development of the survey.
“Students at BYU are eager for more education on how to prevent sexual violence,” Orchowski continued. “Taken together, these findings suggest that university efforts to strengthen sexual violence prevention efforts will be well received by the student community.”
During the 12 months prior to taking the survey, 3.7 percent of participants (6.5 percent of women and 1.2 percent of men) experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact while enrolled at or attending BYU. The most frequent form of unwanted sexual contact reported in the survey was forced touching of a sexual nature such as forced kissing, fondling or touching of private parts. Unwanted oral contact or penetration occur at less frequent rates. Further detail is provided in the survey report.
The university conducted this campus climate survey on the recommendation of the BYU Advisory Council on Campus Response to Sexual Assault. In the past year the university also created a full-time victim advocate position, hired a full-time Title IX coordinator and implemented an amnesty policy for victims and witnesses of sexual misconduct.
The survey also found that in most cases the perpetrator was already an acquaintance of the victim, such as a current or forming dating partner or friend. Drugs and alcohol are rarely involved, either for the victim or the perpetrator.
Only 36 percent of incidents of unwanted sexual contact were reported to formal sources of support. Victims turned most often to ecclesiastical leaders when seeking formal support.
Two-thirds of all incidents were disclosed to informal sources of support, such as a friend, roommate or family member. Yet only 41 percent of survey participants said they know where to take a friend to get help.
So what should a student do when a friend or roommate confides in them?
“Encourage the victim to get help from someone who has the training,” said Professor Ben Ogles, the survey committee chair and dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences. “Say ‘I’m so sorry this happened to you.’ Don’t question them or second-guess them. Accept what they say and walk them over to a place where they can get help.”
There are three offices on campus where victims can go for help and can speak with someone confidentially:
Students may also report incidents of sexual assault, harassment or discrimination to the university’s Title IX Office. The survey found that victims reported only 3 percent of incidents to BYU’s Title IX Office. However, survey participants who interacted with the Title IX Office gave a positive overall impression. About three-fourths of the 130 survey participants who have been a victim, a witness or respondent in an investigation felt the Title IX Office respected their privacy, was sensitive to their emotions, took the case seriously, was fair and impartial and handled the discipline phase for respondents fairly.
The BYU survey was modeled after the U.S. Department of Justice’s Campus Climate Survey Validation Study. Joining Ogles as members of BYU’s survey committee are Dr. Bob Ridge, Department of Psychology; Dr. Eric Jenson, Institutional Assessment; Dr. Rosemary Thackeray, Department of Health Sciences; and Dr. Jennie Bingham, Counseling and Psychological Services.