MIT Releases Groundbreaking Report on Sexual Assaults on Its Campus

Thursday, October 30, 2014
L. Rafael Reif (photo: MIT)

One of the nation’s leading universities has come forward with its own numbers on the disturbing problem of sexual assaults, which could spur similar fact-finding by other institutions of higher learning.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported that one in six female undergraduates had been sexually assaulted while attending the prestigious school. Only 5% of the victims reported the assaults to authorities. More than half of those who didn’t report an assault said they didn’t think it serious enough to report and almost half the victims said they were partly at fault.


The numbers were based on a campus survey involving 3,800 student respondents. MIT’s figures were on par with what the U.S. Department of Justice reported in 2007, saying 19% of female students had been raped or similarly assaulted.


When asked if they had experienced unwanted sexual behavior, 35% of the MIT respondents said “yes.”


“A lot of what we’re up against at MIT is, people think, ‘We’re MIT, it can’t be happening here, we’re too smart for that,’ ” Laura Schmitz, a graduate student who is a founding member of Students Advocating For Education on Respectful Relationships, told the Boston Globe. “But now that we have this data, hopefully more people will understand that this is a problem here. That’s the first step: People need to realize it happens here.”


University President L. Rafael Reif told the university community that he was “disturbed by the extent and nature of the problem” at MIT.


“Sexual assault violates our core MIT values,” Reif wrote in an email. “I am confident that, with this shared understanding and armed with this new data, the MIT community will find a path to significant positive change.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

MIT Survey Sheds Light on Sexual Assaults on Campus (by Matt Rocheleau, Boston Globe)

Rare Survey Examines Sexual Assault at M.I.T. (by Richard Perez-Pena, New York Times)

MIT Announces Steps Intended to Minimize Unwanted Sexual Behavior (by Steve Bradt, MIT News)

40 Percent of Colleges Haven’t Investigated a Sex Assault Case in 5 Years (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Education Dept. Proposes Requiring Colleges to Release Statistics on Sexual Assaults and Hate Crimes (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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