UT System to launch sexual assault survey in October

Matthew Adams

While UT-Austin waited for the Association of American Universities results, which was released Monday, the UT System had already initiated an independent sexual assault study across all its campuses.

The study, which will be conducted through a survey, is tentatively scheduled to be released in October, according to Noel Busch-Armendariz, director of the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at UT. 

At the end of August, the UT System announced the four-year study, which is valued at $1.7 million and is the largest comprehensive assessment of campus sexual assaults. While the AAU only surveyed The new survey will examine sexual assault across all UT campuses.

UT System Chancellor William H. McRaven said his experience investigating and addressing sexual assault in the U.S. military will inform his approach to safety on UT System campuses.

“I am determined to take similarly aggressive steps to ensure I understand the degree of the problem across our campuses and then, as required, take steps to ensure we are protecting our students and giving them the right tools to prevent and/or report sexual assault and harassment,” McRaven said. 

Busch-Armendariz said her research team has finalized the survey content, which is under review by each campuses’ working group, but said there could be some delays before the survey is released.  

“It will be a web-based survey, so there are some logistics about how to get it out to students and how they will be able to respond,” Busch-Armendariz said. “With all research that involves the engagement of human beings, we go through strict, human-subject institutional review boards, and we are submitting our application before launching any of the surveys.” 

The last major part of the study will survey a cohort of UT-Austin undergraduate students to examine perceptions of sexual assault over their time at UT.   

“What we proposed to do is study a set of students throughout their four-year college career and find out what their experience is around this issue,” James Kellison, associate director of the UT Bureau of Business Research, said. “We will be able to go back to a subset of students and follow them … to find out about sexual assault [and] sexual violence on campus and what their experience was on campus.”  

Ellen Cocanougher, one of the students who started the “Not On My Campus” movement at UT to raise awareness about sexual assault prevention, said she is excited to see this response from the University, but students have to step up to address the issue. 

“This study does have the potential to discover a better reporting process that would greatly benefit survivors of campus sexual assault,” Cocanougher said. “However, ultimately, the epidemic of campus sexual assault will never end until the students come together to end rape culture and support survivors.”