AAU Releases Report of Universities’ Efforts to Combat Sexual Misconduct

April 26, 2017
Margot Winick
AAU

University of Florida students took the survey in 2015

The University of Florida, in concert with most of the 61 leading research universities that comprise the Association of American Universities (AAU), has implemented strategies to prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual misconduct on campuses. These steps were detailed in a report issued today by the AAU, as a follow up to its Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct.

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.

In April 2015, UF students joined150,000 students attending AAU institutions, by taking the online survey.  The results provided campuses a better idea of the views, knowledge and experiences of students with respect to sexual assault and services available on campuses to respond to this national issue. Now, AAU has conducted a new survey of its member universities to determine what actions universities are taking to address this complex challenge. Findings from this survey have been compiled in a new report, available at www.aau.edu.

The report shows that universities are creating, developing and enhancing programs to educate the campus community and to assist victims of sexual assault and misconduct. At UF, several programs have been implemented, such as a mandatory learning module called Campus Clarity for all new students including undergraduate, transfer, graduate and professional students.

“Everyone at the University of Florida deserves to be valued, respected, and to live and work in a safe environment,” said UF President Kent Fuchs. “We have strived to reduce the incidence of sexual assault and sexual misconduct, but we simply cannot tolerate this behavior. We understand there is more to do. We are committed to boosting awareness, increasing prevention and creating a secure and supportive campus culture.”

Some of the actions that UF has undertaken include:

  • GatorWell’s STRIVE (Sexual Trauma Interpersonal Violence Education) peer education group provides presentations to inform students and student groups about consent and Title IX issues. During Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, STRIVE also holds a “Take Back the Night” march and rally, now in its fourth year, in conjunction with LGBT Affairs and University Police Department’s Office of Victim Services.
  • More than 120 UF students participated in a multimedia theater experience that engages students on the topics of sexual assault, consent and how to intervene or support each other, called “Ashley’s Consent.” The innovative program explores the question of what constitutes a sexual assault and when one should intervene, and concludes with a discussion with the audience about sexual assault on college campuses, bystander intervention and victim shaming. The piece recently was honored with a statewide award by NASPA, the leading association for student affairs professionals, and the university hopes to expand this program next academic year.
  • UF has invested resources to expand an office dedicated to Title IX issues, and has hired a full-time director and an investigator. A second investigator should be on staff in the coming months. The office oversees nine deputy Title IX coordinators and administers campus-wide educational programs that include options for reporting suspected harassment or dating violence. The office is currently revising its website to feature enhanced information to educate students, faculty and staff.

These programs work with a university-wide umbrella initiative called U Matter, We Care, which provides resources of all kinds to all students and their families and sets the tone for the campus culture of care and respect – at UF Every Gator Counts.

UF’s Vice President of Student Affairs, David Parrott, who joined the university last summer, has brought a wealth of experience in developing and leading effective student services and programs. Under his guidance, the student conduct code has been revised and is slated for final review by the UF community.

University of Florida is creating its own campus climate survey on sexual assault to gauge attitudes, opinions and experiences, to be administered in Spring 2018. Results of the survey will be used to plan future programming. UF also plans to participate in any future AAU-institution surveys.

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