Alumni Lack Confidence in Sexual Assault Investigations

June 4, 2020

Nearly two-thirds of college graduates lack full confidence that their alma mater would have “fully” investigated a report of sexual assault made while they were still students, a Gallup survey found. The results were published today as part of a series that records the opinions of recent alumni. Female and LGBTQ graduates, who experienced a higher rate of campus sexual assault while attending college than non-LGBTQ and male students, were less likely to feel confident in their college to fully investigate a report than their peers, according to the survey report.

About one-third, or 32 percent, of all the 1,600 graduates interviewed by Gallup said they “strongly agree” their alma mater would have fully investigated a sexual assault report if made, whereas 30 percent of female graduates and 34 percent of males said the same, the report said. When graduates were separated for their gender identity and sexual orientation, only one-quarter who identify as LGBTQ said they “strongly agree” their former institution would fully investigate a report.

The lower rate of confidence among women and LGBTQ graduates is “particularly concerning” due to their higher statistical risk for being the victims of campus sexual assault, Stephanie Marken, executive director of education research for Gallup, wrote in the survey report.

“Extensive research demonstrates that issues of sexual assault are underreported because of a number of factors, including fear, shame, embarrassment and a lack of belief that reporting will make a difference,” Marken wrote. “In order to increase reports and make universities a safer place for all students, it's crucial that students feel confident their institution would appropriately investigate these issues.”

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