Carnegie Mellon University

October 15, 2019

Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon Community,

Today, Carnegie Mellon joins the Association of American Universities (AAU) and 32 other universities in sharing the results of an important national survey administered to our students last spring. The AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct was designed and administered by higher education leaders in collaboration with Westat, a leading social science research firm. It seeks to provide insight into:

  • the prevalence of sexual assault and other misconduct;
  • the circumstances, responses and consequences associated with these events;
  • student perceptions;
  • student knowledge of school resources and procedures; and
  • how bystanders react in different situations related to these issues.

This is the third sexual misconduct survey that Carnegie Mellon University has administered since 2015, and we gain valuable insight from our community through each assessment. In this particular study, CMU had a 21.7 percent response rate with approximately 2,750 students participating. I am grateful to all students who take part in these surveys, as they inform our efforts to prevent and effectively respond to sexual misconduct on our campus.

In addition to sharing AAU’s aggregate report of all participating institutions, we also are releasing the full report of CMU-specific data, as well as a comparison summary report compiled by CMU’s Office of Institutional Research and Analysis. These reports are all available on the Office of Title IX Initiatives website. The data paints a sobering picture. Despite nationwide attention and concerted efforts to combat sexual misconduct, including on our own campus, incidence rates remain high across higher education. Even one incident of sexual misconduct is too many and is simply unacceptable. Together we must stand against sexual violence in all its forms and work to build a safer and more respectful campus environment.

The university remains steadfast in its commitment to a focused, collaborative and comprehensive approach to these issues, a key effort of the Office of Title IX Initiatives in close collaboration with Student Affairs and units across campus. In recent years, we have expanded training, education and awareness campaigns to help prevent, effectively respond to, and mitigate the effects of sexual misconduct. Some of these efforts include educating students on healthy versus unhealthy relationships; increasing the understanding of reporting options and processes; and expanding bystander intervention skill-building, including the implementation of The Green Dot Initiative. We also have added significant resources and expanded staffing in the Office of Title IX Initiatives to lead these efforts. The office will soon release its first annual report that provides background information on the reports it receives, its response and efforts the university is taking to prevent incidents of sexual misconduct.

Although we are making progress in deepening our understanding of students’ experiences, building greater awareness and engagement by our community, and dedicating resources to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct, long-term progress will require the sustained efforts of every member of our community. As we continue this work together, our commitment to our core values, including diversity, inclusion, integrity, compassion and respect for the dignity of others, remains unwavering. As individuals and as a community, we must hold ourselves accountable to truly living these values every day. We all bear responsibility for building and sustaining a culture in which everyone can learn, work and live in an environment free from the threat and effects of sexual harassment and sexual violence.

As our community contemplates these reports, we invite you to participate in upcoming campus conversations on the AAU survey findings:

  • Tuesday, October 22 at 4:30 p.m. in the McKenna/Peter/Wright rooms in the University Center; and
  • Wednesday, November 13 at 5 p.m. in the Citrone Room, Tepper Building, Room 5600.

These gatherings will provide an opportunity to learn more about how these findings will be translated into campus action and to share your perspective. I hope many of you can participate to continue these important conversations.


Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman Chair
Carnegie Mellon University