Carnegie Mellon University
April 26, 2017

AAU Report Highlights Efforts to Combat Sexual Misconduct at CMU, Other Universities

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A new report by the Association of American Universities (AAU) documents significant investments and improvements that its members, including Carnegie Mellon and other leading universities, have made in recent years to prevent and address sexual assault and sexual misconduct.

The report gives extensive data and anecdotes about new efforts undertaken by the AAU 62 member universities in response to campus surveys undertaken in and around 2015. As examples of such improvements, the report cites steps CMU has taken to address underreporting of sexual misconduct, and new ways in which CMU has tailored its outreach and education to specific campus audiences.

The report was released following a meeting of the AAU presidents over the weekend.

AAU conducted the new research to follow up on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, a comprehensive campus climate survey conducted by AAU among 150,000 students in 2015. The new report also covers many universities such as CMU that conducted their own campus-wide surveys.

Some key findings include:

  • Over the last three academic years, all 55 institutions that responded to the survey have developed, redefined, or enhanced programs to assist victims of sexual assault and misconduct.
  • 100 percent of responding institutions have surveyed students on issues related to sexual assault and misconduct at least once since 2013.
  • 87 percent (48/55) of responding institutions indicated that surveys or data from surveys stimulated new or changed existing conversations with students about sexual assault and misconduct.
  • Over the last three academic years, 100 percent of responding institutions have changed or are in the process of changing their education and training for students and faculty.
  • Over the last three academic years, 84 percent (46/55) of institutions have developed new programs, education, or interventions for specific student populations or types of students.

The purpose of the new report is to assist AAU universities in their efforts to combat sexual assault and sexual misconduct by providing data and examples of the efforts their peer institutions are making in this area, noted AAU President Mary Sue Coleman.

"Our 2015 survey was sobering; university leaders understand the seriousness of this issue," President Coleman wrote in a letter accompanying the report. "We hope the stories and resources in this report will be useful not only to AAU universities but to all colleges and universities as we work to reduce sexual assault and misconduct on our campuses."

Like all the universities surveyed, CMU conducted a survey of its students on issues relating to sexual assault and misconduct, has improved education and training of students, staff and faculty to prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual misconduct, and has significantly enhanced programs to assist victims of sexual assault and misconduct.

Important priorities have been to encourage reporting of incidents by victims and to encourage bystanders to intervene when they witness circumstances in which sexual assault or sexual misconduct seems like a potential outcome.

Other actions taken by CMU are:

  • Centralizing and standardizing outreach, case management and support to both reporting and responding parties;
  • Launching a website and streamlined print resource guide;
  • Expanding training and prevention education for students, staff and faculty;
  • Working with University Police, other universities and city law enforcement to ensure best practices in training, first response and investigation; and
  • Developing schematics to help explain the University's process.

CMU has also taken steps to ensure that its adjudication process for reports of sexual assault and sexual misconduct is fair to both victims and those accused of committing violations.