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8% Of Oxy Students Surveyed Say They've Been Sexually Assaulted

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Eight percent of Occidental College students who responded to a recent survey say they have been sexually assaulted.The online survey was conducted by the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium and involved 57 private colleges and universities, according to the L.A. Times. The HEDS Consortium is a non-profit that collects and shares data among its 130 member institutions—all private colleges and universities—in order to "advance their institutional missions," according to its website.

634 students took the anonymous online survey and 51 said they had been sexually assaulted. Of those who say they were victims, 75% said they had been drinking and that 80% of assailants had alcohol.

Furthermore, 60% said they believed Occidental would take sexual assault reports seriously, while less than half said they thought the school would conduct a thorough investigation or take action against the assailant. Only about half of the respondents say they believe school officials do a good job protecting students from harm. According to The Occidental Weekly, the survey results suggest a lack of trust among the student body that officials would properly handle sexual assault cases.

Because the study did not use a random sampling, Occidental officials say that it is difficult to draw any conclusions from the results. Caroline Heldman, a political science professor on campus who has been a leading critic of how the school has handled sexual assaults, says the survey is flawed. She also added that, "[A]dministrators have once again ignored faculty experts on campus who are active in efforts to develop better measures of sexual assault."

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"All of the statistics are concerning," said Ruth Jones, Occidental's Title IX coordinator. Title IX is a part of the United States Education Amendments which prohibits sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding.

"While we already know that sexual assault is a problem at Occidental, the survey provides us with more information that we need to respond effectively and improve prevention education programs," Jones added.

In the past two years the school has come under federal investigation for the way they've mishandled sexual assault cases, from not notifying students about rape, to discouraging students from reporting rape, to covering up rape cases. Federal officials are investigating whether the school has violated both Title IX and the Clery Act, the latter of which requires campuses that receive federal money to disclose campus crime statistics

Occidental administrators say the results were released now, while class was in session, in order to be transparent. A presentation with the data will be made to the students in the fall.