Student survey results give glimpse into sexual assaults at Harvard

url-3Yesterday, Harvard University’s student newspaper, The Crimson, released its results from an in-depth survey of the class of 2013 — not surprisingly, it shows many sexual assaults go underreported at this elite institution.

The survey was conducted between May 11 and May 21, reaching a total of 780 graduating seniors, according to the Huffington Post. It found that 45 people — 41 of whom were transgender or female students — said they had experienced a sexual assault while at Harvard. Eight of those 45 victims said they reported the assault to administrators. One victim, a male, went to the police, according to the survey.

Both The Crimson and The Huffington Post fail to analyze those numbers in a larger context, so let’s break them down a little bit.

Forty-five students out of 780 said they had been sexually assaulted — that’s 5.8 percent of students. According to the Department of Justice, the percentage of women that are  raped during college is around 20. Since the 5.8 percent is, theoretically, about 1/4 of the total assaults, it’s actually a pretty good estimate.

Indeed, according to The Crimson, the university has had issues with rape on campus this academic year.

Sexual assault also loomed large in campus dialogue during a school year that started with two rapes reported on campus in a span of five days over the summer. Though the Harvard University Police Department announced that the two assaults were the first stranger rapes reported at Harvard in 12 years, students still voiced safety concerns as they returned to campus.

And although survivors have openly said they feel the administration favors perpetrators over victims in the judicial process, The Crimson reported that officials are unlikely to update their sexual assault response policies any time soon.

So, basically, it sounds like it’s just a matter of time until Harvard students join UNC and Dartmouth activists in filing an official complaint with the Department of Education.


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