A new survey shows a high rate of sexual assault on Wisconsin college campuses, but the real numbers may be greater. Kelly Anderson of Dane County's Rape Crisis Center says the numbers are probably higher than the voluntary survey of 13,000 UW System students indicates. "The UW Madison study that was done a few years back said that approximately one in eight female students entering would be sexually assaulted before graduation," said Anderson. "I would have expected the rate to be even higher, if you were simply surveying female students about their sexual assault experiences."
The questions on sexual assault were just part of a Campus Climate Assessment, conducted by a Pennsylvania-based consulting firm, Rankin and Associates .
The survey's findings, that few of the assaults were reported to police and that most involved female freshman students within their first six weeks on campus, don't come as a surprise to Anderson, who called those responses "completely typical." She says incoming students are particularly vulnerable – especially in situations where alcohol is concerned. "They may not be as accustomed to drinking and socializing and being unsupervised by their parents, and so they are easier targets for men who are doing this very consciously."
Anderson hopes the campuses use the information to come up with new services for sexual assault victims. "It's very tragic, because it means that the perpetrators are that much more likely to continue." The campus climate assessment included students, faculty and staff at UW-Stevens Point, UW-Oshkosh, UW-La Crosse, UW-Milwaukee and at 13 two year UW System colleges.