Available Statistics on Sexual Violence at Florida State University
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
Content Warning - The content of this data brief addresses various forms of sexual violence.
FSU Counseling Center: 850-644-TALK
Author: Shayna Cohen
A recent public written statement by a member of the Asian American Student Union Executive Board, Ireland Hadley, bravely recounts some of his personal trauma caused by sexual violence and calls for members of the FSU community to fight for survivors. In his statement was a direct call to action for students to attend the senate meeting on July 1st, 2020 to advocate for justice. The statement and subsequent calls to action were shared on the social media accounts of many student leaders and Student Government Agencies at Florida State, including the Asian American Student Union and PRIDE Student Union.
Dozens of students attended the allotted “Student & Non-Budgeted RSOs” portion of the Senate agenda , to bravely share their stories of sexual assualt.
The public statement highlights many important statistics regarding sexual violence, provided by the FSU Toolkit on Healthy Relationships. One included statistic, cited from the American Association of University Women*, states that 95% of sexual assaults are not reported to law enforcement agencies. To understand the discrepancy between statisitcs reporting sexual violence suffered by Florida State University students and those formally reported to law enforcement, Torchlight has created the embedded charts, using data from the 2018 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report and the American College Health Association National College Health Assessment.
The ACHA-NCHA II
The American College Health Association National College Health Assessment II, or ACHA-NCHA II, provides a profile of health trends within a collegiate community. The assessment first began in 2000 and is currently one of the largest sources of comprehensive data accessing college students' health. It is primarily designed to be used by college health service providers, health educators, behaviors, counselors, and their administrators. The information regarding violence, abusive relationships, and personal safety gathered in Spring of 2017 from Florida State University students is included in our analysis. The report had a total of 558 respondents, representing a 18.7% response rate.
Essentially, the ACHA-NCHA II is designed to capture direct student experiences, while the Security and Fire Report relays statistics from FSUPD. The differences between these two measures are striking. In 2016 alone, the Annual Security and Fire Report reports a total of 38 crimes of sexual or relationship nature, including rape, fondling, domestic & dating violence, and stalking. Assuming each instance is reported by a separate student, this is less than 0.1% of the student body reporting these crimes to FSUPD. However, the 2017 ACHA-NCHA II survey, which asked for experiences in 2016, has over 10% of its participants reporting non consensual sexual touching within that year and over 2% reporting non consensual penetration in that year.
ACHA-NCHA II Table D. Violence, Abusive Relationships and Personal Safety
Selected responses and simple calculation of approximate respondents
Within the last 12 months, college students reported experiencing:
Total students surveyed: 558
The approximate # of respondents was calculated by using the gender indication of respondents (27.8% male, 70.2% female) to calculate the approximate number of male and female respondents (155 and 392) and then using the percentages of students reporting experiencing the individual acts to calculate an approximate raw number of those respondents. This is approximate and should not be cited as an exact figure.
Even the ACHA survey demonstrates vital shortcomings in the way sexual assault is reported on campus. Not a single male respondent indicated experiencing sexual penetration without consent in the last 12 months, or an attempted sexual penetration without consent. A basic assumption can be made that this does not apply to the entire population. This is pointed out to illustrate that the ACHA survey is not perfectly generalizable to the student body: Because 0 males reported rape in the survey should not mean to say that 0 males on campus are survivors of rape. This is a common limitation with survey data. The national 2016 ACHA survey, for which there were 64,497 respondents, shows that 0.6% of males surveyed reported sexual penetration without their consent, or about 122 males in total across all 92 institutions that participated. This, as well, seems low. This leads into a related topic of the barriers to reporting sexual assault faced by men, women, and nonbinary or otherwise gender-nonconforming students.
2016 Data from FSUPD
Each year, Florida State University is required to release the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report in order to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. Students and faculty can easily access these reports online through FSU Libraries. In addition to information related to sexual violence, it also includes extensive information regarding University Safety Resources, Security of and Access to Facilities, how to report crimes, and much more.
The 2018 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report includes crime data from 2016, 2017, and 2018. To better compare with the 2017 ACHA survey (which asked for experiences within the past year, so occurring in 2016), the data used here is the 2016 reported crimes.
The 2018 report from FSUPD includes two categories of reported crime: Those reported to FSUPD directly, and those reported to other individuals or University offices designated as Campus Security Authorities (CSA) by the Clery Act. These CSAs are then required to report crimes to FSUPD, including crimes where the victim chooses to remain anonymous. Confidential reports filed with the FSU Victim Program and University Health Services are counted and disclosed in the report. However, survivors have the right to decline to notify the police and only report the crime to University officials, and this would cause the crime to not appear in this report.
Table: 2016 Crimes Reported by FSUPD
The following table matches crimes reported to FSUPD, to student experiences reported to the ACHA survey. As the terminologies differ between the two, crimes and experiences were matched when appropriate (e.g. “Fondling” is interpreted as matching with “Sexual touching without consent”) but some did not have an exact match (e.g. “Domestic Violence” can match with “A physically abusive intimate relationship” but the ACHA survey does not ask whether the abusive relationship was domestic, only intimate), therefore it is indicated as having no exact match.
2016 FSUPD Crime Data and ACNH Survey Results
FSUPD’s count of reported crimes include attempts. Percent of the student body was calculated using the total enrollment figure of 41,900.
By placing these two data sources side by side, we hope to simply illustrate how many victims of sexual violence choose not to report the instance to law enforcement. This choice could be made for many reasons, whether personal or systemic. In addressing these important conversations, we need to be cognizant of the needs of victims, and recognize how our current systems are equipped to handle those needs. Understanding how our current system operates is the first step in considering relevant policy recommendations and in investigating how to best integrate student voices into the larger conversations at Florida State.
In Context of Title IX
It is important to note that the call to action regarding sexual violence at Florida State University runs tangent to changes in protections and processes at the federal level. On May 6, 2020, the United States Department of Education released its updated regulations regarding campus sexual assault, which is covered under Title IX, a law that forbids any discrimination on the basis of sex at a federally funded university, like Florida State. To be able to retain funding, all universities must adjust their current procedures to be in line with federal guidelines by August 14, 2020.
In addition to lowering the requirements on employees to report sexual miscount, it also limits reporting to cases which occur within the United States, effectively reducing protections for students studying abroad. The new guidelines also redefine sexual harassment as required to fit into one of three categories, which are summarized here.
A new initial mandatory response requirement has been created as well, which instructs institutions to offer certain resources to “complaints,” while clearly differentiating between students who are merely submitting a report and those who are conducting a formal investigation via a written signed complaint. Other changes further address the standard of proof and the format of formal hearings, particularly surrounding the rules of cross examination. An in depth summary of significant changes at the federal level can be found here.
Once Florida State University finalizes its changes to the current policy in response to federal statutes, the Torchlight Campus Policy Center is committed to releasing an analysis of the policy and an explanation on how these are changing in response to adjustments in federal guidelines. We hope that by presenting our findings, the Florida State University community will be more equipped to better prevent sexual violence and support survivors. We encourage all members of the FSU community to remain engaged with their Student Government and respect the bravery and call to action by students at the senate meeting on July 1, 2020.
*The source linked by the FSU Toolkit on Healthy Relationships for the provided statistic has since been removed.
FSU Counseling Center: 850-644-TALK
American College Health Association. 2017. “American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Florida State University Executive Summary Spring 2017.” American College Health Association. Hanover. https://healthycampus.fsu.edu/sites/g/files/upcbnu1016/files/docs/reports/nchaspring2017.pdf.
Florida State University. n.d. “The FSU Toolkit on Healthy Relationships: Important Facts and Statistics.” https://fsutoolkit.csw.fsu.edu/module/one/important-facts-and-statistics/.
Florida State University Police Department. 2019. “2018 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.” Tallahassee. http://diginole.lib.fsu.edu/islandora/object/fsu%3A692776/datastream/OBJ/view/2018_Annual_Security_and_Fire_Safety_Report.pdf.
Nolan, Jeffrey J, Philip J Catanzano, Miriam Mckendall, and Joshua I Bosin. 2020. “An Early Read on the New Title IX Regulations.” https://www.hklaw.com/en/insights/publications/2020/05/an-early-read-on-the-new-title-ix-regulations.