Many Undergrads Report Nonconsensual Sexual Contact

November 04, 2019

More than one-quarter of undergraduate women contend they have experienced nonconsensual sexual contact since enrolling in college, according to an October 2019 survey of 182,000 students conducted by the Association of American Universities (AAU).

By comparison, nearly 7% of undergraduate men believe they have experienced nonconsensual sexual contact since enrolling in college.

On the positive side, compared to the association’s 2015 study, students are more knowledgeable about what constitutes sexual misconduct and assault, how to report it, and what resources are available.

Only about 30% of women and about 18% of men who reported nonconsensual penetration by physical force or an inability to consent contacted a program or resource afterward, according to the association. Many female respondents said they didn’t seek resources because they felt they could handle it themselves or didn’t think the incident was serious enough to require help.

Colleges and universities seeking to prevent sexual assaults should ensure adequate training of first-year students, who are particularly at risk for such incidents. The Canopy Programs online course, Impressions: Preventing and Reporting Sexual Assault, provides incoming and first-year students with tools to successfully navigate the transition to college life and reduce incidents of sexual assault.

Among the topics addressed by the course:

  • Definitions of sexual harassment, sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking
  • The meaning of consent
  • How to report and where to go for support
  • Prevention, including bystander intervention techniques

Canopy Programs Resources
Real Solutions to Real Problems: Online Training for Your College Campus
Think Beyond the Pigeonhole When Addressing Harassment on Campus


AAU Study
Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct (2019)
Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct (2015)