The results of a recent campus climate survey on sexual misconduct include higher numbers than any University of Iowa official wanted to see.
More than 1 in 5 female undergraduate students who took part in last year's "Speak Out Iowa" survey say they were raped during their time at UI. For undergraduate female students who filled out the survey, 21 percent said they were raped and 20.5 percent reported attempted rape.
More than 11 percent of female first-year undergraduates surveyed said they were raped during their first semester on campus.
“The number is horrible,” Tom Rocklin, UI vice president for student life, said Wednesday in a news conference releasing the results. “It’s a scourge in our society. What’s important is that we work to bring that number down."
UI officials said the results of the survey are in keeping with the national data and research about sexual assault on college and university campuses.
“National research and literature also suggests our first-year students are at a higher risk, but having data that is specific to our own campus really helps us aim our strategies and be more effective," said Monique DiCarlo, who heads UI's Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator.
The numbers, however, show a disturbingly high number of sexual assaults continue at a university that recently completed a Six-Point Plan to Combat Sexual Assault.
The survey results also come at a time when, as of June 15, UI remains one of 195 postsecondary institutions under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights over cases involving sexual violence. Other Iowa schools undergoing Title IX investigation include Drake University, Grinnell College and Iowa State University.
Several students — saying that they still needed more time to process the numbers — declined to comment Wednesday afternoon after a community briefing on the survey.
One student, when asked for her reaction to the survey results, said, "How about just a large sigh?"
Despite the small sample size, officials have responded to the report with a new, two-year Anti-Violence Plan to End Sexual Misconduct, Dating Violence and Stalking.
"For the students who wanted to tell us about their experiences, this is what they told us," Hartley said. "So I cannot say for sure this is the rate on campus, but we’ve got numbers that we need to respond to."
The "Speak Out Iowa" survey was made available online to all degree-seeking undergraduate, graduate and professional students for seven weeks starting Oct. 26, 2015. Low response rates led university officials to extend the initial deadline for students to fill out the survey.
UI officials initially planned to release the survey results during the spring semester but said the analysis of the data wasn't completed until May.
"We didn’t want to dump it and have people go home," Hartley said.
The committee used the summer months, Hartley said, to work with various groups on campus to develop an action plan in response. The plan includes several provisions for prevention and education, intervention and policy changes.
"We really wanted to not just put the data out in a vacuum but (to be able to say), ‘Here’s what we learned from the data' and 'Here's a plan of what the university is going to do,' " she said.
Penn State University released the results of its ARC3-based survey in April, reporting a response rate of nearly 27 percent among undergraduates and almost 41 percent among graduate students. Miami University in Ohio last week released the results of its ARC3-based survey, reporting a response rate of 13 percent.
The University of Northern Iowa also has conducted a campus climate survey using the ARC3 instrument. The survey was distributed earlier this year toward the end of the spring semester.
“We have the results but have not completed reviewing the data/responses,” Scott Ketelsen, a UNI spokesman, said via email.
The survey results show that alcohol was a common factor in cases for all types of sexual misconduct on the survey — including unwanted sexual contact, attempted coercion, coercion, attempted rape or rape. In the incidents reported by the survey participants, 56.3 percent said the offender had been using alcohol, and 64.5 percent said they had been using alcohol.
Being able to collect and analyze that information is an important step toward ensuring the university's efforts are moving in the right direction, Hartley said.
"It's impossible to do this research without somebody being impacted by participation in it," she said, "and it’s really more about (asking), 'How do you make sure that there are supports and resources available to people?' "
That's one of the reasons, she said, UI officials scheduled counselors and advocates to be available during Wednesday's community briefing of the survey results.