Dear Members of the Yale Community,
Earlier this morning the Association of American Universities (AAU) released the results of the 2019 AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct. Yale, along with thirty-two other colleges and universities, participated in the survey, which was offered to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Yale also participated in the inaugural 2015 AAU survey, along with twenty-six peer institutions. With the results of both Yale surveys and the AAU aggregate reports in hand, we now have more data to help us better understand the campus climate, measure the progress of our efforts to combat sexual misconduct, and pursue additional actions.
I encourage you to take time to review the 2019 survey information, including the introduction from Vice Provost and University Title IX Coordinator Stephanie Spangler. Dr. Spangler’s introduction, along with Yale-specific and AAU aggregate reports and data tables from both the 2019 and 2015 surveys, is posted at https://provost.yale.edu/title-ix/yale-report-aau-campus-climate-survey.
As you will see, the 2019 survey results for Yale show progress from 2015 in a number of areas. For example, many more students report sexual misconduct and make use of university resources for support. Additionally, within the larger student body, there is evidence of increased knowledge of university policies and definitions and of increased confidence that the university takes complaints seriously. Students are also more likely to know how to help a friend and to intervene, as bystanders, in uncomfortable situations. There is also evidence of a reduction in sexually harassing behaviors, especially those that may occur in a group or public setting.
All that said, the survey results continue to show troublingly high rates of sexual misconduct on our campus, and I am deeply distressed by these findings. Sexual misconduct causes serious harm to those who experience it, is antithetical to the university’s high standards of conduct, and is corrosive to Yale’s mission. Such behavior has no place on this campus or anywhere.
The positive changes reflected in the survey are the consequence of the unflagging efforts of the Title IX Office and those who lead our Title IX initiatives, and they clearly reflect the strong and growing engagement of the Yale community. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni have joined actively in efforts to raise awareness of issues and resources, sponsoring numerous educational gatherings and skill-building workshops. Some have come forward with ideas that shaped new initiatives, such as the graduate and professional student bystander intervention program.
I call now upon the Yale community to use that same energy, ingenuity, and dedication to help us eradicate sexual misconduct at Yale. At the end of her introduction, Dr. Spangler describes a number of actions already in play to address the challenges reflected in the survey data. I urge you to take part in those initiatives and to be in contact with her office (TitleIX@yale.edu) with your own observations and suggestions for additional measures we can take as a community.
In closing, I would like to express my support for those who lead our initiatives to address sexual misconduct at Yale and for the many members of the community whose active engagement makes positive change possible. Each of us plays a vital role in creating and sustaining a safe and inclusive campus where all can contribute, learn, and thrive.
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology