Sexual Misconduct Climate Survey

Cooper Union surveyed the students enrolled during the 2016-2017 academic year using the Climate Survey created by Campus Clarity to assess the climate on campus regarding sexual misconduct and bystander intervention. Though the response rate was low (approximately 7% of invited participants), the respondents were representative of the enrolled student body. The findings of this survey are described below.

During the 2016-2017 academic year, has anyone done the following to you, in person or by phone, text message, or social media), regardless of where it occurred: (percentage of respondents selecting YES)

  • Making sexual advances, gestures, comments, or jokes that were unwelcome to you: 20%
  • Flashed or exposed themselves to you without your consent: 8%
  • Showed or sent you sexual pictures, photos, or videos that you didn’t want to see: 2%
  • Showed or sent sexual photos/videos of you or spread sexual rumors that you didn’t want shared: 1%
  • Spread sexual rumors about you that you didn’t want shared: 2%
  • Watched or took photos/videos of you when you were nude or having sex, without your consent: 0%

7.5% of respondents reported having experienced sexual contact without their consent before becoming a student at Cooper Union.

11.3% of respondents reported having experienced sexual contact without their consent since becoming a student at Cooper Union.
Of the above 11.3% of respondents, the types of behavior reported were:

  • Forced touching of a sexual nature: 37.5%
  • Verbal coercion or non-physical coercion: 37.5%
  • Unable to provide consent or stop what what was happening: 25%
  • Don’t know/did not respond: 25%

Of the reported behavior while attending Cooper Union:

  • 66.7% occurred off-campus at a location unaffiliated with the school
  • 16.7% occurred on-campus
  • 16.7% occurred in a building or space outside of the vicinity of the school

Of the respondents reporting non-consensual sexual contact, they indicated reporting the incident to the following people:

  • No One: 40%
  • Close friend: 40%
  • Roommate: 20%
  • Dating/romantic partner: 20%
  • Campus staff member: 20%
  • Campus or campus-affiliated counselor: 20%
  • Family Member: 0%
  • Residence hall assistant: 0%
  • Professor: 0%
  • Title IX Coordinator: 0%
  • Campus security/police: 0%
  • Off-campus counselor: 0%
  • Medical Professional: 0%

Reasons indicated for not reporting the behavior were: feeling ashamed or embarrassed; believing it to be a private matter and wanting to deal with it on their own; fear of being blamed; feeling like it would be an admission of failure; and not wanting others to worry.

With regard to their own behaviors, zero respondents answered affirmatively to any of the following statements: that during the 2016-2017 academic year, [they] have had or TRIED to have sexual contact with someone without their consent by:

  • Telling lies, threatening to end the relationship, threatening to spread rumors about them, making promises about the future I knew were untrue, or continually verbally pressuring them after they said they didn’t want to
  • Showing displeasure, criticizing their sexuality or attractiveness, getting angry but not using physical force after they said they didn’t want to
  • Taking advantage when they were too drunk or out of it to stop what was happening
  • Threatening to physical harm them or someone close to them
  • Using force, for example holding them down with my body weight, pinning their arms, or having a weapon

Of the behaviors relating to domestic or dating violence, the vast majority of respondents (between 89%-100% depending on the behavior listed) indicated that they had never experienced this in a current or previous relationship since becoming a student at Cooper Union. 64% of respondents had not experienced any of the listed behaviors. Of items relating to stalking, 81.6% of respondents had not experienced any of the listed behaviors. By item, the vast majority of respondents (91.8-98% depending on the behavior listed) had not experienced stalking-related behaviors.

In response to questions about reporting a sexual assault to administrators at Cooper Union, the percentage of respondents who felt it very or moderately unlikely that:

  • Administrators would take the report seriously: 4.44%
  • Administrators would take steps to protect the safety of the person making the report: 6.66%
  • Administrators would support the person making the report: 4.44%
  • Administrators would take corrective action to address factors that may have led to the sexual assault: 13.33%

This indicates that the vast majority of students either felt confident in administrative response or indicated that they did not have enough experience in this area to give an opinion.

Regarding available resources (listed as percentage disagree-neutral-agree):

  • I know where to get help regarding sexual assault at my school: 27-15-58
  • I know how to contact my school’s Title IX Coordinator: 34-15-52
  • I understand my school’s formal procedures to address complaints of sexual assault: 58-12-30
  • I understand how to report a sexual assault at my school: 39-17-44
  • I understand where I can find confidential support at my school: 25-12-63
  • I know where to seek special accommodations at my school if I was assaulted: 39-17-44
  • I have confidence that my school’s administrators will follow the procedures necessary to address complaints of sexual assault fairly: 20-29-51

In terms of Bystander behavior, respondents were overall fairly confident in their ability and the likelihood of demonstrating that behavior. The percentages listed were respondents indicating they were moderately, mostly, or completely confident/likely that they would:

  • Express my discomfort if someone makes a joke about someone’s body: 75%
  • Express my discomfort if someone says that rape victims are to blame for being raped: 88%
  • Talk to a friend who I suspect is in an abusive relationship: 83%
  • Get help and resources for a friend who tells me they have been raped: 76%
  • Confront a friend who tells me they have had sex with someone who passed out or didn’t give consent: 86%
  • Tell a campus authority about information I have that might help in a sexual assault case even if pressured by my peers to stay silent: 80%
  • Speak up to someone who is minimizing or making attempts to excuse having forced someone to have sex with them: 88%
  • Speak up to someone who is minimizing or making attempts to excuse having had sex with someone who was unable to give consent: 88%

For the following statements, respondents indicated the likelihood of doing the following behaviors (either moderately or very likely):

  • Confront other students who make inappropriate or negative sexual comments/gestures about a person: 74%
  • Ask for verbal consent when I am intimate with my partner, even if we are in a long-term relationship: 88%
  • Stop sexual activity when I am asked to, even if I am already sexually aroused: 93%
  • Check in with a friend who looks drunk when they go to a room with someone else at a party: 79%
  • Say something to a friend who is taking a drunk person back to their room at a party; 73%
  • Challenge a friend who made a sexist statement/joke: 73%
  • Challenge a friend who said something offensive about people who are LGBT: 85%
  • Challenge a friend who made a racist statement/joke: 82%
  • Report other students who use force or pressure to engage in sexual contact: 60%
  • Discourage a friend who plans to give someone alcohol to get sex: 90%
  • Confront a friend if I hear rumors that the friend forced sex on someone: 79%
  • Decide not to have sex with a partner if they are drunk: 88%
  • Take action if I saw someone trying to take advantage of another person sexually: 87%
  • Support others who confront harmful or problematic behavior: 94%

70% of respondents were able to correctly identify all 6 aspects of the role of the Title IX Coordinator under New York State law. 97% of respondents were aware that the Title IX Coordinator is responsible for overseeing Cooper Union’s response to complaints of sexual misconduct. All items of responsibility were selected by at minimum 82% of respondents.

Respondents were aware of numerous resources for reporting or seeking assistance with issues of sexual misconduct:

  • Title IX Coordinator: 85%
  • Human Resources: 44%
  • Student Care Coordinator and Counselor: 71%
  • Outside affiliated counselors: 71%
  • Dean of Students: 88%
  • Residence Life on-call Staff: 53%
  • NYPD: 91%
  • Mount Sinai Beth Israel Victim Services: 56%
  • Safe Horizon (local nonprofit victim services): 21%
  • RAINN hotline: 35%

34% of students were correctly able to identify (Preponderance of Evidence) as the standard of evidence used in resolving sexual misconduct complaints. The majority of students believed it to be “clear and convincing”.

52% of respondents correctly identified all aspects of the definition of Affirmative Consent under New York State law. No fewer than 61% identified each area of the policy, with most aspects being selected by at least 87% of respondents.

Note: In response to the results of this survey, the Cooper Union is developing additional education and publicity to address areas where there is less understanding and knowledge of the policy and resources available.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

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  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.