MIT Surveys

< MIT Health & Wellness Surveys:
2014 Community Attitudes on Sexual Assault

Survey update from the Chancellor, April 2015

How can you help?

Get involved.

Support survivors.

  • Believe them.
  • Be respectful of their privacy and right to confidentiality.
  • Let them make their own decisions.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Offer to get them connected to resources.

Be an active bystander.

  • We should all look out for each other.
  • Notice the situation: Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Interpret it as a problem: Does someone need help?
  • Feel responsible to act: You are part of the solution to help.
  • Know what to do: Educate yourself on how to speak up.
  • Intervene safely: Take action but be sure to keep yourself safe – enlist help if you are unsure.

Campus Environment and Climate: Student Views & Experiences

What do the data tell us?
Survey participants rated their level of agreement with statements about sexual assault that are generally false, but considered widely held. This included statements such as "A person who is sexually assaulted or raped while she or he is drunk is at least somewhat responsible for putting themselves in that position." While the majority of respondents did not agree with these statements, both undergraduate and graduate male respondents were more likely than female respondents to agree.

When asked if they thought their peers would agree or disagree with these statements, more were likely to indicate their male counterparts would agree with most statements than their female counterparts. For example, 7 out of 10 undergraduate female respondents thought that their male counterparts would agree with the statement "When someone is raped or sexually assaulted, it's often because the way they said 'no' was unclear or there was some miscommunication."

What are we doing in this area?
MIT staff and students have been developing educational messages and a social marketing campaign to help correct "rape myths". In addition, MIT's Infraternity Council (IFC), in collaboration with VPR and CDSA, created PartySafePlus trainings, designed to help students develop skills to create a safer social environment on campus.

Unwanted Sexual Behaviors: Incidence Rates and Circumstances

What do the data tell us?
24% of female respondents and 7% of male respondents indicated they had experienced an unwanted sexual behavior (USB) while at MIT. Higher incidence rates were seen among respondents who were LGBTQ, female, and affiliated with FSILGs. Incapacitation (someone taking advantage of when the person was too drunk, high, asleep or out of it) was the top circumstance for incidents among all respondents.

What are we doing in this area?
MIT has focused on increasing prevention and education efforts by:

  • Building a Peer Education program focused on sexual health
  • Developing a bystander intervention and social host program for undergraduate and graduate students living in campus housing
  • Incorporating behavioral expectations regarding sexual assault into intervention methods for high-risk drinkers, who are more likely to be perpetrators
  • Hosting opportunities for students to develop creative prevention strategies utilizing their abilities to "think outside the box" and problem-solve
  • Partnering with offices who serve the LGBTQ and FSILG community to create tailored prevention messages and outreach

Unwanted Sexual Behaviors: Telling or Reporting

What do the data tell us?
Less than two-thirds of respondents experiencing an unwanted sexual behavior told someone else about the experience, and fewer than 5% officially report it. The top four thoughts or concerns when deciding whether or not to share or report their experience were the same for students who experienced attempted or completed penetration and for those who reported sexual contact only:

  • "Did not think it was serious enough to share"
  • "Felt that I was at least partly at fault or it wasn't totally the other person's fault"
  • "Did not want any action to be taken"
  • "Not clear harm was intended"

What are we doing in this area?

  • Developing a robust campaign about reporting options and resources
  • Completing a review of the Committee on Discipline procedures for sexual misconduct cases and recommending a number of changes to remove barriers and improve the process for all students involved
  • Forming a dedicated Title IX Office with additional staff to conduct investigations and provide training to the community
  • Creating a Sexual Assault Response Team with MIT Medical, MIT Police, and the Title IX Office to coordinate efforts and regularly assess issues of campus safety
  • In response to the findings of our Community Attitudes on Sexual Assault (CASA) survey, MIT has created four new positions in Violence Prevention and Response (VPR). In addition, we created a new Title IX Office, appointed a new Title IX coordinator, and hired two new staff members to address issues of gender-based inequities.

Prevention and Response: Bystander Actions & Resources

What do the data tell us?
When the situation arises, many respondents indicate usually or always exhibiting good bystander behavior, especially for circumstances that involve helping a friend or someone they know. Many respondents indicated not knowing enough about key MIT resources to which they could turn if they were sexually assaulted in the future.

What are we doing in this area?

  • Developing a social norms campaign to promote the bystander actions already employed and to promote behavior we would like to see increased
  • Offering specialized training for key campus resources about the perception of and barriers to seeking services
  • Promoting a campaign to increase awareness of resources, including short videos of service providers describing their offices, and partnering with communication experts to utilize technology to promote targeted messaging and resources