Startled by data suggesting that sexual assault is common and underreported on campuses across the nation, university leaders have increased staffing, training and support for students in recent years, finds a new survey of leading universities. Schools have increased spending and hiring to combat sexual assault on campus, adding an average of five new full-time employees in the past few years, the Washington Post reports. That’s just one sign of what the Association of American Universities (AAU) says is a sweeping response by top schools to respond to the issue. An AAU report released today, comes as some have wondered how President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will deal with campus sex assault.
Two years ago, an AAU survey found that more than 20 percent of female undergraduates had suffered sexual assault or misconduct, a report that many university leaders called alarming and a call to action. That data compounded the sense of urgency that scrutiny from the Obama administration and student activists had brought to the issue. Under Obama, the Education Department conducted hundreds of investigations of colleges for their handling of sexual violence complaints. Universities responded, with everything from town-hall meetings to new classes to skits for incoming freshmen to complete overhauls of their policies around the issue. All of the 55 universities in the new survey added training, and efforts to better support victims of sexual misconduct. The vast majority worked to improve and streamline the way complaints are handled, sharing information confidentially across departments.