USC Climate Survey

Note: This message is issued jointly by Provost Michael W. Quick and Vice President for Student Affairs Ainsley Carry.


September 21, 2015

Dear USC students, faculty and staff:

The University of Southern California is taking important strides toward eliminating incidents of sexual misconduct and assault. In 2014 we launched an online educational module for all incoming students (Think About It) and followed that with conversations in the residence halls (Talk About It). We expanded our education on the importance of bystander responsibility to take action when inappropriate behavior is observed and collaborated with student leaderships to integrate consent education into student organizations. We relocated the Center for Women and Men into the Engemann Student Health Center, added staff, and doubled the size of the Center. With input from students we made important updates to the Student Code of Conduct to align with national best practices.

In our ongoing efforts to improve our programs and services to combat sexual misconduct and assault, USC participated in the AAU Campus Climate Survey with 26 other Association of American Universities members – America’s top research universities. The goals of the climate survey were to: (1) estimate the incidences and prevalence of different forms of sexual misconduct; (2) collect information on student views related to the climate surrounding sexual; and (3) assess student knowledge of university resources and procedures related to sexual misconduct. While we were aware from the start the limitations of these types of surveys, and the stress that such surveys might have on survivors of sexual assault, we felt that the survey would provide additional information to guide our efforts to rid our community of sexual misconduct.

Results of the survey are now available to USC community. The full report includes:

All of USC’s 41,594 students were invited to participate in the survey, and 8,052 responded; this represents a 19.4% response rate for USC in comparison to a 19.4% average response rate for all 27 participating universities.

Among the findings from USC’s climate survey:

  • Perception of campus officials. Approximately 60% of survey-takers thought it was very or extremely likely that campus officials would take a report of sexual assault or sexual misconduct seriously.
  • Perception of safety. Approximately 54% of survey-takers thought it was very or extremely likely that campus officials would protect the safety of the person making a report of sexual assault or sexual misconduct.
  • Nonconsensual penetration and touching. 14.5% of the undergraduate female survey-takers reported experiencing nonconsensual penetration during their time in college; approximately 23% reported nonconsensual sexual touching.
  • Sexual harassment. Approximately 66% of undergraduate female survey-takers, and 45% of undergraduate male survey-takers, reported experiencing sexual harassment such as sexual remarks or inappropriate comments.
  • Reporting behavior. An overwhelming majority of survey-takers who experienced sexual assault or misconduct chose not to report the incident to campus officials, with approximately 76% of females, and approximately 70% of males, claiming they did not think the nonconsensual touching involving physical force they experienced was serious enough to report.
  • Knowledge of resources. Approximately 45% of survey-takers reported having little to no knowledge about where to get help or make a report in the event of a sexual assault or misconduct, or how those terms were defined at the university.
  • Satisfaction with campus resources. Of those survey-takers who elected to use campus resources in the event of a sexual assault or misconduct, a majority of them found campus resources to be very or extremely useful.

Our conviction is that one sexual assault in our community is one too many. In the coming weeks and months we will use findings from our survey results to guide campus conversations and efforts to improve our campus culture. We intend to engage a broad section of stakeholders (e.g., students, parents, faculty, and staff) to deepen our understanding and explore solutions. We will continue to strive to create a campus of mutual respect and concern for each other’s safety. In the meantime, we remind everyone of the programs and services in place to support survivors and respondents:

  • The Center for Women and Men offers advocacy and confidential counseling to those who have experienced gender-related harm, as well as educational programs that help prevent sexual violence and create healthy relationships. The Center for Women and Men is located inside the Engemann Student Health Center, 213-740-4900, or
  • Student Counseling Services assists students with developmental issues as well as more serious or longstanding struggles.  Student Counseling Services provides mental health treatment including short-term psychotherapy, group counseling and crisis intervention. The office is located inside Engemann Student Health Center, 213-740-7711.
  • The Title IX Coordinator assists those wishing to file a complaint related to harassment or discrimination, sexual harassment, or Title IX, and conducts investigations based on complaints. The Title IX Coordinator’s office is housed in the Office for Equity and Diversity, which is located in the Credit Union Building, Suite 200. The office may be reached at 213-740-5086, or

The entire university community has a shared responsibility to create an environment where sexual misconduct is unacceptable. With our collective efforts, we can continue to create a safe campus for everyone.


Michael Quick, Provost,

Ainsley Carry, Vice President for Student Affairs,