- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - More than one in five Purdue University female undergraduates say they’ve experienced a sexual assault since beginning college, and about one in eight say it happened during the current year, the school said Monday.

Purdue released the findings of a Campus Climate Survey on sexual assault sponsored by the Association of American Universities to coincide with the AAU’s release of an aggregate report from 27 institutions nationwide. Purdue was the only Indiana institution participating in the survey.

At Purdue, 21.9 percent of female undergraduates on the main campus in West Lafayette who responded to the survey said they had been sexually assaulted since beginning college, slightly lower than the 23.1 percent AAU aggregate, the university said. Also, 13.2 percent reported they had been sexually assaulted during the current year, the same as the aggregate finding.

Sexual assault was defined as experiencing nonconsensual sexual penetration or sexual touching involving physical force or incapacitation.

For female graduate and professional students, 4.9 percent of Purdue respondents said they had been sexually assaulted in the current year compared with 3.4 percent in the AAU aggregate, and 11.8 percent reported a sexual assault since their arrival at Purdue, compared to 8.8 percent in the AAU aggregate. A majority of the assaults involved friends or acquaintances, Purdue said.

Alcohol and drugs or both were involved in a majority of sexual assaults and incidents of sexual misconduct, and most respondents who witnessed an intoxicated person headed toward a sexual encounter or sexually violent or harassing behavior did not intervene, Purdue said.

The survey was administered in April to all students at the 27 institutions. The Purdue students’ response rate to the survey was 13.3 percent, lower than the AAU survey average of 19.3 percent.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels emailed the results of the Purdue findings to students on the West Lafayette campus Monday morning.

“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 … and to work to build a better, safer and healthier community,” Daniels said in the email.

Purdue will establish a Center for Advocacy, Response and Education by the start of the 2016 academic year to “serve as a centralized resource for students who are victims/survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking,” Daniels said in his email.

A coalition of Purdue student groups pushed school officials last spring to establish a rape crisis center on campus, but university officials said at the time that services for sexual assault victims already existed either on campus or in the area and that a bricks-and-mortar facility would not be a good use of resources.

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