Newly Released Campus Sexual Violence Data Don’t Tell Full Story

May 10, 2017


Media Contact:
Amy Becker,

89 percent of U.S. college campuses report zero incidents of rape, domestic and dating violence, and stalking


WASHINGTON — An American Association of University Women (AAUW) analysis of data recently released by the U.S. Department of Education shows that 89 percent of college campuses reported zero incidents of rape in 2015.

“If these numbers were accurate there’d be cause for celebration, but we know for a fact they’re not,” said Lisa M. Maatz, vice president of government relations and advocacy at AAUW. “These numbers don’t reflect campus climate surveys and academic research, let alone what we’ve heard from students themselves.”

The Clery Act requires American colleges to disclose reported crimes on their campuses, including incidents of sexual assault. These annual safety reports are also required to include information about schools’ training and prevention efforts to improve campus safety. “It’s important to know that these requirements are not new,” Maatz said. “The issue isn’t new, and neither are the requirements that schools address them. These zeros raise serious concerns about how schools are handling campus sexual assault incidents.”

The Department of Education data also included, for the second year in a row, data on dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking in addition to rape statistics. And yet, in each of these new categories most campuses did not disclose any reported incidents. For 2015 about 9 percent of campuses disclosed a reported incident of domestic violence, around 10 percent disclosed a reported incident of dating violence, and about 13 percent of campuses disclosed a reported incident of stalking.

AAUW’s analysis of the 2015 data provides a further breakdown of the numbers, along with background on what the data say about schools that reported zero incidents of rape, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

“The data tell us that students don’t feel comfortable coming forward with their experiences,” said Maatz. “Correct numbers matter because they help us not only understand the scope of the problem but how to allocate resources in order to appropriately prevent and respond to incidents. Schools that report zero incidents clearly have some work to do.”

AAUW’s analysis shows that campuses that disclosed a report of one type of incident were more likely to disclose reports of other types of incidents, indicating that some schools are clearly working to follow the law and address sexual violence holistically. Systems that welcome reports, support survivors, and disclose statistics correctly are incredibly useful in designing and implementing adequate response and building prevention programs to address gender-based violence.

“These zeros further stress the vital importance of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the continued need for robust enforcement of Title IX,” noted Maatz. “Schools and students need the support and resources that the Office for Civil Rights provides. It must have adequate funding and strong, accountable leadership if we want to end campus sexual assault once and for all. Every student deserves an equal opportunity to learn in a safe and equitable climate — that must remain a priority no matter who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

The full 2015 data set is available online from the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, every school’s annual security report should contain this information.

By:   |   May 10, 2017