31% of USC undergraduate women report experiencing at least one instance of non-consensual sexual contact, according to a report released on October 15.
The 2019 Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct garnered the participation of 8,381 USC undergraduate, graduate and professional students last spring.
This is higher than the national average of the 62 higher education institutions that participated in the survey, which shows roughly one in four undergraduate women report experiencing sexual assault.
“For far too long the culture at USC has been to turn a blind eye to sexual assault and neglect responsibility to provide support when support was needed the most,” said USG Senator Haley Garland at a town hall event discussing the findings of the survey.
Other findings included a decrease from the 2015 survey in the percentage of students who are knowledgeable about sexual assault topics and an increase in the percentage of students who reported instances of sexual assault.
“This data is not just data. This data is people. Every answer we have is representative of a person," said Vice President of Student Affairs Winston Crisp.
Crisp, who began his role at USC in July 2019, expressed his discomfort with the results of the survey.
“We’re not happy. We will never be happy until we get to where this can be eradicated,” Crisp said.
Crisp said although much is being done to combat the prevalence of sexual assault on campus, more needs to be accomplished.
“What’s already being done is not enough,” he said. “It’s not a student health problem, it’s not a student affairs problem, it’s a university problem.”
Katherine Jacobs, a senior theatre major, said she wasn’t shocked by the outcome of the study.
“I am not surprised given the campus culture here. People talk, students talk, so we know that it’s going on,” Jacobs said.
Colleen Krogh, a sophomore psychology major, said she was saddened by the results of the survey. However, she said it’s a broader issue, not just a USC one.
“I know it’s a problem. I think it’s a problem everywhere, though,” Krogh said. “I think there are ways that we can bring awareness and help prevent certain situations that are more susceptible to it.”
Crisp said the university is taking a public health approach to addressing the issue, focusing on prevention and education. He also hopes to use the survey to establish a set of concrete recommendations to provide to the Provost to combat sexual assault.