September 21, 2015
To all Purdue students at the West Lafayette campus,
Earlier this morning, the Association of American Universities issued its report on a national survey conducted last spring among all students at Purdue and 26 other colleges and universities to measure the campus climate surrounding sexual assault and sexual misconduct. I think it only appropriate that you, our students, are the first to receive our report.
A bit of detail: In April, this survey was sent to all 37,581 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Only 13.3 percent of you responded. Because of the disappointingly low response rate and possible self-selection, these results cannot and should not be used to draw definitive conclusions about the prevalence of sexual assault or misconduct at Purdue. However, the results do provide us with information that is vital as we address these very real concerns.
As I have written to each entering class since my arrival at Purdue, we expect much of you as Purdue students, and particularly we expect appropriate behavior and a strong, positive personal character. A safe and healthy campus is always our goal. When any one of our students experiences a sexual assault or sexual misconduct, that is one too many. I urge all of you to read the results linked below and to work to build a better, safer and healthier community.
Purdue’s results generally are consistent with the national data, and there are a few key findings that I’d like to point out, in addition to letting you know about some programs and opportunities for education of which you may not be aware.
For example, 13.2 percent of those female undergraduates who responded to the survey reported they had been sexually assaulted during the current year and 21.9 percent said they had been sexually assaulted since entering Purdue. (Note: Sexual assault in this survey is defined as experiencing nonconsensual sexual penetration or sexual touching involving physical force or incapacitation.) The Purdue result is the same as or slightly lower than the AAU national result on this measure. A majority of these assaults were reported to have involved friends or acquaintances.
For female graduate and professional students, however, Purdue results are higher — 4.9 percent said they had been sexually assaulted in the current year compared with 3.4 percent AAU; and 11.8 percent reported a sexual assault since their arrival at Purdue, compared with 8.8 percent AAU.
We also are extremely concerned that the use of alcohol and/or drugs is involved in a majority of incidents of sexual assault and sexual misconduct; and that the majority of respondents who witnessed a drunken person headed toward a sexual encounter or witnessed sexually violent or harassing behavior did not intervene.
I know many of you are aware of programs we currently have in place, including the 24-hour crisis line listed on your Purdue ID card (765-495-HELP), an educational unit that you were required to take upon starting Purdue, and educational sessions on bystander intervention, among others.
We intend to enhance and expand our bystander education programs, as well as our relationship violence education, and will offer several listening sessions during the fall semester to learn more about your concerns.
In addition, we intend to establish the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education (CARE), a centralized resource center for students who are victim/survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking. We anticipate that CARE will be fully operational prior to the start of the next academic year. It will provide 24/7 services and will centralize and expand our education and outreach efforts for students.
Sexual misconduct is never an easy topic, but it is one that needs to be discussed and one that needs to be addressed.
Thank you for all you do to make this a great university for all Purdue students.
Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr.
Hovde Hall, Room 200 • 610 Purdue Mall • West Lafayette, IN 47907-2040 • (765) 494-9708 • Fax (765) 494-7875