key Findings

Trigger warning

This document addresses the sensitive topic of sexual violence and may be difficult for some readers. If you or someone you know is in need of any resources or support for sexual harassment, dating violence, stalking, or sexual violence see the Find Help Now page for a comprehensive list of resources.

Survey methodology1

In fall 2015, the University of Iowa (UI) administered a newly developed campus climate survey, the Administrator-Researcher Campus Climate Collaborative (ARC3) survey to all degree-seeking students. The survey selection and administration was overseen by the Sexual Misconduct Climate Survey Subcommittee of the UI Anti-Violence Coalition. The purpose of the survey was to address two objectives:

  • Determine UI students’ perceptions of the campus climate around sexual misconduct
  • Identify rates of sexual misconduct (sexual harassment by faculty/staff, sexual harassment by fellow students, and sexual violence victimization), dating violence, and stalking that undergraduate and graduate/professional students experienced since enrolling at the UI

The ARC32 is a free campus climate survey designed specifically for the higher education community.  It was developed by a consortium of sexual assault researchers and student affairs professionals who came together to respond to the recommendations of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.3  Six campus stakeholder groups had active roles in providing feedback on the UI ARC3 to tailor it to the UI campus.  The survey was marketed as the Speak Out Iowa survey.

All degree-seeking, undergraduate, graduate, and professional students (N=28,797) at the Iowa City and off-campus centers, including those completing online degrees, received an invitation to participate in the online Speak Out Iowa survey through several email messages sent to their university email address.  Prior to the opening of the survey, and throughout data collection, students were made aware of the survey through an extensive campus-wide marketing campaign.  Additional outreach strategies were also added in an effort to increase the survey response rate.

Of the 3,785 students who accessed the survey and agreed to participate, 2,683 students completed the survey resulting in a response rate of 9.3%.  Survey completers were defined as those students who provided complete data up to and through the sexual violence victimization modules (the last victimization modules in the climate survey).  

Sample limitations 

There are three key limitations to keep in mind when interpreting the findings of this survey.  First, the response rate is low (9.3%), although within the range of response rates (7% to 53%) observed on 27 college campuses that administered the briefer American Association of University (AAU) Campus Climate Survey,4 that preceded the availability of the ARC3.  

Second, respondents as a group differed from non-respondents on both sex and race/ethnicity.  Specifically, as seen in other campus climate surveys, males and students from underrepresented minority groups were less likely to respond to the survey. 

Third, it is unknown whether respondents were more (or potentially less) likely than non-respondents to have experienced sexual misconduct.  It is possible that students who have experienced sexual misconduct responded to the survey at greater rates than students who have not experienced sexual misconduct, because the survey was more personally relevant to them.  If those who have experienced sexual misconduct were more likely to complete the survey, this would produce higher rates of victimization in the sample of respondents, relative to all UI students.  Alternatively, it is also possible that students who have experienced sexual misconduct may have responded to the survey at lower rates, because completion of the survey was distressing to them.  From the data available in our survey, it is not possible to determine whether students who experienced sexual misconduct were more or less likely to complete the survey.  While analyses conducted as part of the AAU Campus Climate Survey Report suggest that those affected by sexual misconduct may have been more likely to respond to other campus climate surveys, other researchers have challenged this conclusion.5 

The low response rate, and the “known non-response bias” and “unknown non-response bias” raise questions about (a) whether the responding students adequately represent all UI students; and (b) whether the estimates that we present in the tables throughout the report are sufficiently reliable or precise. 

As noted above, we know that those who did respond to the survey differed along some important demographic dimensions from students who did not respond, such as sex and race/ethnicity.  To adjust for these “known non-response biases”, the data were weighted using a common “raking procedure”.6  The variables used in the procedure included gender, age, year in school, and race/ethnicity. 

Given that only 9.3% of students responded to the survey, the survey findings should be interpreted with caution.  The findings represent the experiences of those students who completed the survey, but do not necessarily represent the experiences of all UI students.

Demographic characteristics of survey respondents - unweighted data 

Unweighted sample Number of respondents Percentage of respondents Percentage of all UI students
Sex at birth      

Female

 1972  73.5%  51.9%
Male  711  26.5%  48.0%
 Year in school      
 1st year undergraduate  391  14.6%  21.2%
 2nd year undergraduate  335  12.5%  15.9%
 3rd year undergraduate  489  18.2%  17.9%
 4th year (+) undergraduate  682  25.4%  19.9%
Graduate student (Graduate College)  552  20.6%  15.4%
 Professional student (law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy) 234 8.7% 9.3%

 

Speak Out Iowa survey key findings 

Key finding #1

Since enrolling at the University of Iowa, 21% of the undergraduate female students who completed the survey reported being raped.*  

Type of Sexual Violence Victimization

Undergraduate

Graduate/ Professional

Total UI Students

Attempted Rape

 

 

 

   Male

7.8%

4.3%

6.8%

   Female

20.5%

10.3%

18.4%

Rape

 

 

 

   Male

3.8%

4.1%

3.9%

   Female

21.0%

11.3%

19.1%

* A reported rape could have occurred on or off campus and during breaks.  These types are not mutually exclusive.  A student could have experienced both an attempted and completed rape

Key finding #2

In their first semester at the University of Iowa, 11.4% of first-year undergraduate female students who completed the survey reported being raped.

  • Previous research has identified the first semester and first year on campus as a time of increased risk of sexual assault for female undergraduate students.7  

Key finding #3

For all types of sexual violence victimization, alcohol is a common factor.

  • For students who reported experiencing any sexually violent victimization (unwanted sexual contact, attempted coercion, coercion, attempted rape, or rape), 56.3% said the offender had been using alcohol during the incident, and 64.5% reported they had been using alcohol during the incident.
  • The findings on alcohol use by both the offender and victim during sexual violence victimization are consistent with other research which has found alcohol use to be a potent risk factor for sexual assault among college women.8 

Key finding #4  

For those students who reported having been raped, 26.4% reported being assaulted on more than one occasion, by more than one offender since enrolling at the University of Iowa.

  • Reports of repeat victimization among UI students are consistent with findings from the Sexual Victimization of College Women survey which found that 23% of college women who reported a rape were assaulted on more than one occasion.9

Key finding #5

For both sexual harassment committed by faculty/staff and by fellow students, students who completed the survey reported experiencing sexist gender harassment most frequently. 

Reports of Sexual Harassment

By Faculty/Staff

By Fellow Students

Sexist Gender Harassment

36.0%

56.9%

Crude Gender Harassment

13.4%

45.6%

Unwanted Sexual Attention

4.2%

23.5%

Sexual Coercion

1.5%

N/A

Sexual Harassment Via Electronic Communication

N/A

24.5%

  • Graduate students report experiencing more sexist gender harassment by faculty/staff (44.7%) than undergraduate students (33.2%).
  • Female students report more sexual harassment (of all types) by fellow students than male undergraduate students.
  • Note that not all sexist gender harassment (as measured by the ARC3) constitutes a UI policy violation; however, sexual harassment is a form of sexual violence10 that may create conditions that can be conducive to other forms of sexual violence that may co-exist or escalate in severity.11 

Key finding #6

Since enrolling at the University of Iowa, 20.8% of all female students and 11.4% of all male students who completed the survey reported experiencing dating violence.

Key finding #7

Since enrolling at the University of Iowa, 12.7% of all female students and 5.7% of all male students who completed the survey reported experiencing a pattern of three or more instances of stalking behaviors. 

Key finding #8

For students who experienced sexual violence victimization, dating violence, or stalking, the vast majority said the offender was someone they knew.   

Reports of Victimization by Relationship to Offender

Stranger

Non-Stranger*

Sexual Violence Victimization

20.2%

79.8%

Stalking

16.3%

83.7%

Dating violence

3.0%

97.0%

*Non-stranger included any offender who was known to or acquainted with the victim in any way.

Key finding #9

For students who experienced sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating violence, or stalking, 42.6% chose to disclose this experience to someone. Those who did disclose were overwhelmingly likely to disclose to an informal support person (i.e., friend, roommate, partner, family member) (95.6%) than a formal support system (i.e., counselor, police, victim advocate, Dean of Students) (22.5%).

  • Students who disclosed most frequently reported telling a close friend other than their roommate (73%). 

Key finding #10

Overall, students had a favorable perception of how the UI would respond to a student reporting an incident of sexual misconduct.

  • Students felt that it was likely or very likely that the institution would:
    • Maintain the privacy of the person making the report (84%)
    • Take the report seriously (76%)
    • Protect the safety of the person making the report (74%)
    • Do its best to honor the request of the person about how to go forward with the case (71%)
  • Students did not feel that it would be likely or very likely that a person making a report would be labeled a troublemaker (16%), blamed for what happened to them (8%), or be punished by the institution (6%).
  • Female students perceptions were, however, somewhat less favorable than male students regarding whether the institution would take the report seriously, take steps to protect the safety of the person making the report, would be able to honor the person's request about how to move forward with the case, and be able to provide accommodations or other support to the person. 

Key finding #11

The most frequently reported channels where students said they learned about sexual misconduct information or education on campus were:

  • Seeing crime alerts (90%)
  • Discussing the topic of sexual misconduct with friends (72%)
  • Seeing posters about sexual misconduct (70%)

Key finding #12

Half (51%) of students agreed or strongly agreed that they would know where to go to get help on campus if they or a friend experienced sexual misconduct, and 41% of students agreed or strongly agreed that they would know where to go to make a report of sexual misconduct.


Definitions of sexual misconduct, dating violence, and stalking in the ARC3 Climate Survey 

The definitions below are based on how sexual misconduct (sexual harassment and sexual violence victimization), dating violence, and stalking were measured by the Speak Out Iowa Survey/ARC3.  In some cases, these definitions may not be considered violations of University of Iowa policy or Iowa State Law.  All students were asked to respond to these behaviors since enrolling at the UI. 

Sexual Harassment by faculty/staff and fellow students:

  • Sexist Gender Harassment – being treated differently because of their sex or perceived gender identity, someone displaying sexist or suggestive materials, someone making offensive sexist remarks, or being put down because of their sex (faculty/staff and fellow students).

  • Crude Gender Harassment – being told offensive sexual stories or jokes, unwanted attempts to being drawn in to discussions of sexual matters, someone making offensive remarks about their appearance, body, or sexual activities, or making gestures or using body language of a sexual nature that were embarrassing or offensive (faculty/staff and fellow students).

  • Unwanted Sexual Attention – unwanted attempts to establish a romantic relationship (one item fellow students), continually being asked out for drinks or dinner, touched in a way that made them uncomfortable, or unwanted attempts to kiss, fondle or stroke them (all items faculty/staff).

  • Sexual Coercion – being bribed with a reward to engage in sexual behavior, feeling threatened with retaliation for not being sexually cooperative, treated badly for refusing to have sex, or someone implied better treatment if they were sexually cooperative (faculty/staff only).

  • Sexual Harassment Via Electronic Communication – someone sent or posted unwanted sexual comments jokes or pictures by text, email, social media; spread unwelcome rumors by text, email, social media or other electronic means; or called them gay or lesbian in a negative way by text, email, social media or other electronic means (fellow students only).

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Sexual Violence Victimization included five types of victimization using coercive tactics, incapacitation, and/or force.  Coercive tactics involved behaviors such as threats to end the relationship or spread rumors, continual verbal pressure to have sex, or showing displeasure or getting angry but not using physical force.  Incapacitation involved being taken advantage when too drunk to stop what was happening.  Force involved threats to physically harm them or someone close to them or using physical force such as being held or pinned down. The five types are:

  • Unwanted sexual contact – fondling, kissing, or rubbing up against a person’s private areas of their body, or removing clothing without the person’s consent (but did not involve attempted sexual penetration) using coercive tactics, incapacitation, or force.

  • Attempted coercion - attempted oral, anal, or vaginal sex without a person’s consent using coercive tactics.

  • Coercion - oral, vaginal, or anal sex by coercive tactics.

  • Attempted rape - attempted oral, anal, or vaginal sex without a person’s consent by incapacitation or force.

  • Rape - completed oral, anal, or vaginal sex without a person’s consent by incapacitation or force.

Dating violence included any report of physical and/or psychological abuse behaviors.

Stalking included a pattern of stalking behavior in which a student reported at least one of eight behaviors occurring three or more times.

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Footnotes 

[1] See the full Speak Out Iowa Report available https://speakout.uiowa.edu for a complete description of the survey methodology, including the recruitment and marketing procedures and data weighting.

[2] http://campusclimate.gsu.edu

[3] https://www.notalone.gov/assets/report.pdf

[4] Cantor, D., & Fisher, W. B. (2015). Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct.  Rockville, MD: Westat. 

[5] Freyd, J. J. (2015). Examining denial tactics: Were victims overrepresented in the AAU Survey of Sexual Violence on College Campuses? The Blog, Huffington Post, September 29, 2015.

[6] Izrael, D., Hoaglin, D. C., & Battaglia, M. P. (2004). Proceedings of the Twenty-Ninth Annual SAS Users Group International Conference, SAS Institute Inc.: To rake or not to rake is not the question anymore with the enhanced raking macro. Cary, NC. 

[7] Carey, K. B., Durney, S. E., Shepardson, R. L., & Carey, M. P. (2015). Incapacitated and forcible rape of college women: Prevalence across the first year. Journal of Adolescent Health, 56(6), 678-680.; Kimble, M., Neacsiu, A. D., Flack, W. F., & Horner, J. (2008). Risk of unwanted sex for college women: Evidence for a red zone. Journal of American College Health, 57(3), 331-338.; Krebs, C. P., Lindquist, C. H., Warner, T. D., Fisher, B. S., & Martin, S. L. (2009). College women's experiences with physically forced, alcohol-or other drug-enabled, and drug-facilitated sexual assault before and since entering college. Journal of American College Health, 57(6), 639-649.

[8] Mohler-Kuo, M., Dowdall, G. W., Koss, M. P., & Wechsler, H. (2004). Correlates of rape while intoxicated in a national sample of college women. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 65(1), 37-45.; Mouilso, E. R., & Fischer, S. (2012). A prospective study of sexual assault and alcohol use among first-year college women. Violence and Victims, 27(1), 78-94.

[9] Fisher, B. S., Cullen, F. T., & Turner, M. G. (2000). The Sexual Victimization of College Women. Research Report.  Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.

[10] Frieden, T. R. (2014). Six components of necessary for effective public health program implementation. American Journal of Public Health, 104(1), 17-22.

[11] Chamberlain, L. J., Crowley, M., Tope, D., & Hodson, R. (2008) Sexual harassment in organizational context. Work and Occupations, 35(3), 262-295.; Sadler, A. G., Booth, B. M., Cook, B. L., & Doebbeling, B. N. (2003).  Factors associated with women’s risk of rape in the military environment.  American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 43(3), 262-273.

[12] Cantor, D., & Fisher, W. B. (2015). Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct.  Rockville, MD: Westat.; Krebs, C. P., Lindquist, C. H., Warner, T. D., Fisher, B. S., & Martin, S. L. (2008). The Campus Sexual Assault (CSA) Study.  Washington, DC: US Department of Justice.; Fisher, B. S., Cullen, F. T., & Turner, M. G. (2000). The Sexual Victimization of College Women. Research Report.  Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.

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Survey Results

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