Results of AAU Survey on Sexual Assault

September 21, 2015

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:
I write to you today about a national survey conducted last spring at 27 member institutions of the Association of American Universities (AAU), including Columbia.  Results of the AAU survey on sexual assault released today provide extensive information on this issue nationally and locally.  Its core data confirm our understanding that sexual harassment and assault take place at unacceptable rates and cause harm both to individuals and to our community.  As members of a university community, each of us must recognize this happens in our midst, act to prevent it, and provide support when incidents occur.  
Over the past two years, we have made important progress in our own prevention programming and resources for response.  I have asked Executive Vice President for University Life Suzanne Goldberg to convene a task force of students, faculty, and administrators to develop strategies and recommend action for refining and improving this effort.
I encourage you to learn more about the data, starting with the message Suzanne has posted on the Sexual Respect website, and the detailed executive summary of the survey data on Columbia written by our faculty experts who collaborated with AAU on this project.  Also found there is the comprehensive AAU report and accompanying data tables for Columbia and, separately, the report and tables for the composite group of 27 participating schools.  You will find, as well, the newly-released second annual Report on Gender-Based Misconduct Prevention and Response at Columbia.
The wealth of data now available to us offers an invaluable opportunity for further education and informed action.  Accordingly, I also encourage you to learn more about the multidisciplinary research of Columbia’s Sexual Health Initiative to Foster Transformation (SHIFT), which is examining the individual, interpersonal, and community-level factors that shape sexual health and sexual violence on our campus.  
This is a challenge that confronts our society both on and off college campuses.  We remain deeply committed to investing in the people and the policies that make Columbia a community that respects and protects all of its members.
Lee C. Bollinger