A new survey only adds to the growing perception that there's a rape crisis in US colleges, the Washington Post reports. According to 150,000 students responding at 27 schools, more than one in five female undergraduates have been sexually assaulted (including forced kissing or groping) and 11% experienced unwanted penetration, half the time by force. Conducted by Westat, a social science firm that sent out electronic questionnaires for the Association of American Universities, the survey data jibes with another poll out earlier this year. "It is shockingly bad, but it is the truth," says Education Secretary Arne Duncan when told about the data. "It’s just like gun violence. ... We can either hide from that reality, or not." Among the survey's other findings:
- The rate of sexual assault varied by school. It was 23% overall, but hit 13% at one school and 30% at another. School-specific data isn't out yet, but most of the schools say they'll release that information this week, the Huffington Post reports.
- Only one in four students said they reported rape or sodomy to law enforcement or university authorities. Their main reason was that "it wasn't serious enough," says HuffPo. But 63% said they believed campus officials would take such a report seriously.
- Sexual harassment was even more prevalent, with at least 49% of female undergrads reporting it at every school in the survey. Among LGBTQ students, that number rose to 75%.
- One in twenty undergraduate guys say they were sexually assaulted or experienced sexual misconduct.
Only 19.3% of students responded to the survey—less than was expected—and some of its data includes encounters that lacked "affirmative consent," or ongoing approval by both people throughout a sexual encounter. But the message seems clear, and "the leaders of our universities are deeply concerned about the impact of these issues on their students," says AAU President Hunter Rawlings.