URBANA — As the University of Illinois waits for new federal regulations for investigating sexual misconduct, its biennial Campus Climate Report indicates nearly 1 of 5 women attending the UI have been sexually assaulted since joining the university.
According to the survey sent to 12,500 students last spring, 18.5 percent of women who responded “reported an experience of completed oral, anal or vaginal sexual assault." That figure was similar to the results two years ago.
That’s also similar to national averages, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Danita M. B. Young said.
“We’re just an average university, and most would border around that average,” she said.
Among men, 4.2 percent said they’d been sexually assaulted since joining the UI, the same as two years ago.
The report is being released as the UI prepares for new federal guidelines that could give more rights to people accused of misconduct.
The Obama administration’s regulations had told schools to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard when adjudicating cases, but the Trump administration rescinded that policy and proposed new regulations that would use a higher “clear and convincing” standard, meaning the claim has to be highly probable.
UI officials took issue with the proposed rules, arguing in a letter to the Education Department that the new rules could deter victims from reporting harassment.
The UI also cited a 2015 Illinois law that requires schools use the preponderance of evidence standard in student cases.
“That’s a delicate balance between federal guidelines and state laws,” Young said. “We’re anxiously waiting.”
Getting students to report misconduct has been an issue for the UI, according to its survey.
Only 12 percent of women and 1.6 percent of men reported their experiences of sexual misconduct to the UI, and of those who did 73 percent were satisfied with the UI’s response, down from 82 percent two years ago.
“I think we can always strive to work harder in making sure that people feel safe and that they are satisfied with any level of support they have on campus,” Young said. “We continuously seek to improve that.”
And Young wishes “more people would come forward when they have been victims of sexual misconduct. There’s a variety of reasons why people don’t.”
While most don’t tell anyone about their experiences, 87 percent of students said the UI would take their report seriously if they did come forward.
“I felt very secure in knowing that most of our students firmly believe that if they had to file a report, the university would take it seriously.”
Young said the UI takes several steps to educate students about sexual misconduct and the campus’ resources.
“We require sexual assault prevention training,” Young said. “We have the First Year Campus Acquaintance Rape Education. There’s the ICARE bystander intervention training. We try to educate student groups on the resources available to them.”
The study also looked at how many students experienced any type of sexual assault, from fondling to penetration.
Nearly a third of women -- 32 percent - said they had been sexually assaulted while at the UI, down from 39 percent two years ago.
About 13 percent of men said they’d been sexually assaulted, similar to two years ago.
And the survey asked about sexist behavior and gender harassment.
About 21 percent of women said they’ve been treated differently because of their sex, compared with 6 percent of men. About 15 percent of women also said they’ve heard sexist remarks, compared to six percent of men.
Of those who experienced gender harassment, 70 percent said the incidents happened in the classroom and 61 percent of the incidents involved professors.
While 2,076 students completed at least a portion of the survey, the report cautioned that the respondents may not be representative of the whole campus.
For example, 61 percent of respondents were women, despite making up about 46 percent of the campus’ enrollment.
Among the other findings:
— One in three women and one in seven men said they’ve been stalked.
— Thirty percent of women reported at least one experience with cyberharassment, compared to 13 percent of men.
— One in five women reported dating violence, compared to one in ten men.
— About 30 percent of women and 31 percent of men said they drink at least twice a week.
— About 37 percent of women and 34 percent of men said they had used marijuana since entering the UI.