Portland State releases results of first student survey on sexual misconduct
Author: Suzanne Pardington, University Communications
Posted: April 4, 2017

Portland State University’s first comprehensive campus survey about sexual misconduct found one in seven undergraduate women has experienced sexual violence on or off campus.

PSU conducted the survey in spring 2016 to better understand, prevent and respond to sexual harassment and sexual violence on and off campus. The campus climate survey aligned with the goals of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault -— created in 2014 — which identified campus sexual violence as a national priority.  

“Every case of sexual misconduct is a violation of our community values; even one is too many,” PSU President Wim Wiewel said. “We are working hard on prevention, and this survey shows we still have much more to do. We are committed to making Portland State a safe and respectful community.” 

Read the survey highlights and full report. 

Key findings include: 

  • 13 percent of undergraduate women reported sexual violence (including unwanted sexual touching and unwanted penetration) on or off campus while attending PSU. 
  • Of the undergraduate women who reported experiencing sexual violence, 54 percent said that the perpetrator was not a PSU student or employee. 
  • The sexual violence rate was 4 percent for undergraduate men and 29 percent for trans and non-binary gender students.
  • About half of students said they know how to report sexual misconduct, where to go for help and how to help prevent it.


The national rate for undergraduate women experiencing sexual violence is between 21 percent to 23 percent (about one in five), according to surveys by the Association of American Universities and the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. PSU’s average is lower than national rates in part because of the demographics of its student population, according to the PSU survey. The average age of PSU undergraduates is 26, and the report shows the sexual violence rates are highest among students from ages 18-25. The rates decline significantly starting at age 26.

PSU has taken a number of steps to reduce the rate of sexual violence and misconduct, such as offering workshops in active bystander intervention and consent, requiring all students to complete online awareness training, adding confidential advocates in student resource centers and hiring a trained and experienced sexual assault detective in the Campus Public Safety Office. 

The voluntary, confidential survey was sent to a representative sample of 12,556 undergraduate and graduate students who matched the demographics of the university, and 2,370 students (19 percent) completed it. The survey asked students about their experiences with a range of unwanted sexual behaviors on and off campus, including sexual assault, harassment, stalking and dating violence. They also were asked about their knowledge of prevention and intervention resources and their overall sense of safety and support on campus.