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A 2013 Daily Pennsylvanian poll found that 31 percent of undergraduates knew someone who had been sexually assaulted while he or she was a student at the University. | Courtesy of Tuan Le/Creative Commons

Credit: Tuan Le

Penn’s recent release of results from a sexual assault climate survey conducted by the Association of American Universities has sparked increased discussion on sexual assault across campus. In 2013, The Daily Pennsylvanian conducted a similar poll on the student body — and it appears that not much has changed.

The DP poll found that 31 percent of undergraduates knew someone, including themselves, who had been sexually assaulted while he or she was a student at the Penn. Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents answered that they thought students frequently chose not to report sexual assaults because they felt “shame or guilt.”

The AAU survey also found that students often cite shame, embarrassment or fear of negative social consequences as reasons for not reporting. It also found that respondents most commonly did not report sexual assault or misconduct because they did not believe the assault or misconduct was serious enough.

The DP’s 2013 poll also found that only about a quarter of the most recent sexual assaults that students knew about were reported to the police or campus officials. At the time, 16 forcible sex offenses had been reported in 2012, according to the Division of Public Safety’s “Annual Security & Fire Safety Report” that year.

This year, the AAU survey found that about 52 percent of Penn students believe that a victim reporting a crime would be supported by the University. That number drops to a lower level of confidence at 35.6 percent among students who identified as transgender, genderqueer or non-conforming, questioning, not listed.

Penn released the results of the AAU survey on Sept. 21 in an email from President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price to all students at the University. Gutmann and Price called the results “deeply troubling” and promised to “redouble our efforts” to tackle the problem.

The survey was designed to measure students’ experiences with sexual misconduct and violence on various college campuses. It was administered last April by the independent research firm Westat. Twenty-seven universities have taken part in the survey, which includes every Ivy League university except Princeton.

Overall, the AAU survey states that 12 percent of Penn undergraduate women who responded to the survey reported experiencing nonconsensual penetration involving force or incapacitation since their arrival, and 20.8 percent had experienced nonconsensual sexual touching. The AAU results came from the responses of 26.9 percent of all undergraduate and graduate students, a total of 6,402 out of 23,789 students.

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