The survey of millennials, released Friday, was conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute. Among other questions, the poll asked Americans born between 1980 and 2000 how common sexual assault is in various different settings. Here are the responses for respondents who graduated from college (as well as millennials overall):
As you can see, 30 percent of millennial grads said that sexual assault is “very common” at colleges and universities, and another 43 percent say it’s “somewhat common.”
Now let’s look at a similar question asked by Inside Higher Ed’s Survey of College and University Presidents, released earlier this month. Here respondents were asked whether they agree or disagree, on a scale of 1 to 5, with the statement “Sexual assault is prevalent at U.S. colleges and universities.” The results suggest that college presidents are much less likely to perceive sexual assault as a common problem on campuses:
Only 8 percent said they “agree strongly” that sexual assault is prevalent at colleges and universities.
The share of presidents perceiving sexual assault to be prevalent shrinks further when they were asked whether assault was prevalent at their own institutions. Only 1 percent agree strongly with this assessment.
The questions are, of course, worded differently, but they do paint a broad-brush picture of how disconnected presidents’ vs. students’ perceptions of campus sexual assault are. Perhaps this explains why there’s also a huge gulf in views about whether campuses are doing enough to keep students safe. Recent grads mostly say no, while college presidents mostly say yes. So are college presidents in denial, or do students and administrators just have a very different view of what institutions’ responsibilities are?