U Kentucky Survey: Students Reluctant to Report Sexual Assault


The University of Kentucky has released a survey pertaining to campus safety, finding that almost 5% of students have been sexually assaulted within the past year, although many of them were hesitant to report the incidents to campus authorities.

The Campus Attitudes Toward Safety surveys, which students were required to complete last spring, began a five-year plan to look further into how students feel about on-campus violence and harassment as well as their experiences on the subject.

The survey asked students questions regarding where attacks took place, if they had been committed by students of the University, and how safe students felt while on campus.

“This is a project that will help us make informed policy decisions to make this the safest campus possible,” UK President Eli Capilouto said as the findings were released on the Lexington campus.

In all, 24,382 students completed the survey.  Of that group, 1,053 students, or 4.9% of the student population, said they had been sexually assaulted within the past year.  University officials said that statistic is in line with campus surveys across the country.

Of those who participated in the survey, 74.6% who reported being attacked said the perpetrator was a fellow student.

In addition, over 60% of those who said they had been assaulted did not look for help from campus services that offer guidance and support.

“Too many students still believe sexual assault is a shame and scorn they cannot share,” Capilouto said. “And still too many students don’t fully understand the resources at their disposal and the people — so many people — who want to help.”

Students who did not seek help after the incident occurred reported that they did so because they wanted to simply forget what had happened, felt it was a private issue, or were embarrassed.  18% said they did not want to get the other person in trouble, and 26% said they did not want to navigate the university process that would follow formally reporting the incident.

Of the students who responded to the question about where the attack occurred, 37% reported being attacked either in university housing or university-affiliated housing either on or off campus.  Attacks that happened off campus typically occurred in student apartments or houses.

However, 98% of students still reported feeling safe while on campus during the day, and 77% felt safe at night.

“This survey isn’t a silver bullet; it is a bullet that has to pierce the hearts and minds of everybody on this campus that has responsibility for one another and responsibility for the welfare of what is most precious to us, and that’s our students,” UK President Eli Capilouto said at a news conference to announce the findings.