March 24, 2017
Dear UT Community,
Today, we are releasing a report that details the prevalence of sexual assault and misconduct at The University of Texas at Austin. The data is drawn from the Cultivating Learning and Safe Environments (CLASE) survey that the University of Texas System conducted at 13 UT institutions across the state last year.
The results of this survey of our students are of tremendous concern to me, and I know these findings are deeply troubling to every member of our community. This survey reveals a problem in our university, as well as society, that has existed in the shadows for too long.
CLASE found that 15 percent of undergraduate women at UT Austin reported that they had been raped, either through force, threat of force, incapacitation or other forms of coercion such as lies and verbal pressure.
Furthermore, 28 percent of undergraduate women at UT Austin said they were the victims of unwanted sexual touching, and 12 percent experienced attempted rape. Thirteen percent of graduate and professional school women said they experienced crude sexual harassment perpetrated by a staff or faculty member, with 30 percent experiencing sexist gender harassment and 5 percent unwanted sexual attention harassment.
The majority (87 percent) of unwanted sexual contact incidents were reported to have occurred off of the UT Austin campus.
This survey is a wake-up call to me, as it should be for every student, faculty member and staff member at UT Austin.
I have said throughout my presidency that sexual misconduct will not be tolerated. Every individual who serves our university must feel valued, respected and free to learn and work in a safe environment. But what this survey makes clear is that many on our campus have not had that experience. We have let them down and we need to improve — not in a year, not in a month, but right now.
The first injustice committed in every assault or inappropriate behavior is the act itself, but the second injustice is often the silence of the community surrounding that victim. We must not be silent anymore, and we must not be afraid to face this problem.
There are many resources and programs available for our students to address issues of sexual misconduct, including Voices Against Violence, Counseling and Mental Health Center Crisis Line, Title IX Office, Employee Assistance Program, Student Emergency Services, Behavior Concerns Advice Line and UTPD. We want to create a culture of awareness and prevention on our campus so that students are empowered to speak out if they are victims, to report inappropriate activity if they see it and to recognize threatening behavior before it becomes action.
I thank the 7,500 students at UT Austin who voluntarily and confidentially filled out online questionnaires for this survey. The complete report of the CLASE survey results for UT Austin is available here.
I want survivors to report and know that their university cares about them — their experiences must be reported. If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault or misconduct, please contact our Title IX Office immediately.
No voice is too quiet to listen to. No story of abuse is too minor to ignore. No truth is too uncomfortable to face. We support you.
Gregory L. Fenves