University vows to strengthen efforts to prevent sexual misconduct
Today Rice released the results from its Survey on Unwanted Sexual Experiences (SUSE).
Citing results from the survey, President David Leebron and Provost Marie Lynn Miranda called on the entire Rice community to help address this critically important problem. “While we have worked hard over many years to create a culture of care at Rice, the results shown in the survey are simply unacceptable,” Leebron and Miranda wrote in a letter distributed campuswide.
Leebron and Miranda urged students, faculty and staff to join in what they referred to as a “critically important endeavor” to address all aspects of sexual misconduct and assure that all university community members benefit from a safe and welcoming environment.
The survey was administered last spring to Rice undergraduate, graduate and professional students to gain a better understanding of the prevalence and nature of sexual misconduct experienced by Rice students. Nearly 5,590 students were asked to participate, and the overall response rate of 72.3 percent reflects the responses of 36 percent who fully completed the survey and 36 percent who indicated they did not have any unwanted sexual experiences while at Rice.
Nineteen percent of female students and 5 percent of male students who responded to the survey reported having experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact during their time at Rice. That contact ranged from unwelcome kissing or touching to, in about 3 percent of cases, sexual assault involving penetration.
“These numbers are deeply concerning and demand an immediate and determined response,” the president and provost said. “Sexual assault, gender-based violence or relationship violence, in any form, will not be tolerated at Rice.”
The survey results will inform the university’s efforts to improve sexual assault prevention and education and awareness programs, to provide the best services to survivors of sexual assault and to improve the campus climate more broadly.
Rice has already implemented a number of significant measures to help combat sexual assault and other forms of sexual misconduct, including partnering with the Houston Area Women’s Center to create Project SAFE, establishing the Office of Sexual Violence Prevention and Title IX Support, working with students to revise the Sexual Misconduct Policy, revamping informational and educational sessions for freshmen during orientation and working collaboratively with the Montrose Center, a nonprofit organization that empowers primarily lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and their families to enjoy healthier and more fulfilling lives.
Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson, Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Seiichi Matsuda and Allison Vogt, director of Sexual Violence Prevention and Title IX Support, plan to meet with student leaders to organize conversations across campus to identify additional steps the university should take in response to the SUSE findings.
The survey was developed in collaboration with the University of Chicago and Stanford University. The results were analyzed by an independent research corporation, the National Opinion Research Council (NORC), and will provide baseline data for ongoing assessments of sexual misconduct and campus climate.
“As leaders of this community, we pledge that the university will redouble its commitment and efforts to combat sexual assault and other forms of sexual misconduct both now and in years to come,” Leebron and Miranda wrote.
The full survey and survey results prepared by NORC can be found on the Project SAFE website at http://safe.rice.edu/.