HEDS Sexual Assault Climate Survey 2015

In March 2015, Colgate participated in the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) Consortium’s Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey.


This page contains descriptive language of sexual assault and other gender-based violence that may be triggering to survivors and others.

In March 2015, Colgate participated in the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS) Consortium’s Sexual Assault Campus Climate Survey. We wanted to learn our students’ perceptions of Colgate’s climate for unwanted sexual contact and sexual assault, how Colgate responds to sexual assaults, and whether and how often they have experienced unwanted sexual contact or sexual assault. We are sharing the results in order to engage the campus community in informed discussion about how to address this complex and difficult issue.

This page shares a summary of the survey results, including items of highest concern (find the full data set here).

On This Page...


Survey Information

Timing, Distribution Method, and Scope

  • Administered electronically to all students February 23, 2015 - March 16, 2015
  • Responses were anonymous
  • All demographic information was voluntarily self-reported; therefore, not all counts add up to total who responded.
  • Women are overrepresented in the sample (70%)
  • Not a random sample, so it is difficult to generalize to our undergraduate population; the purpose of the survey was rather to inform about respondents’ experiences and perceptions


Response Rate

  • 718 students = 25.5% of Colgate students
  • Benchmark: Indicates aggregate average of responses; 21,403 respondents from 54 private four-year institutions
  • Response rate at Colgate is comparable to that of benchmark institutions

Class year breakdown

2015 29.7%
(211 Respondents)
2016 22.1%
(157 Respondents)
2017 23.5%
(167 Respondents)
2018 24.7%
(176 Respondents)

Gender breakdown

Men Women
(210 respondents)
(502 respondents)

Race/ethnicity breakdown

African American/Black 3.9%
(28 Respondents)
Asian American/Asian 3.2%
(23 Respondents)
Hispanic/Latino/a 6.5%
(47 Respondents)
White 75.5%
(542 Respondents)
Two or more races 4.2%
(30 Respondents)
Not a US citizen or permanent resident 5.6%
(40 Respondents)
Unknown 1.1%
(8 Respondents)

Sexual orientation breakdown

Asexual 2.1%
(15 Respondents)
Bisexual 4.4%
(31 Respondents)
Gay 1.3%
(9 Respondents)
Heterosexual 87.2%
(621 Respondents)
Lesbian 1.4%
(10 Respondents)
Pansexual 0.8%
(6 Respondents)
Queer 0.4%
(3 Respondents)
Questioning 2.1%
(15 Respondents)
Fill in 0.3%
(2 Respondents)

Summary of Findings

These findings are a summary of the survey results, including items of highest concern.

Views on General Climate at Colgate

Students “strongly agree” or “agree” with the following

Statement Colgate Benchmark
Faculty, staff, and administrators at Colgate are genuinely concerned about students’ welfare 83.0%
(592 respondents)
Students at Colgate are genuinely concerned about the welfare of other students. 56.1%
(401 respondents)
I feel safe on this campus. 84%
(600 respondents)

Views on Sexual Assault at Colgate

Students “strongly agree” or “agree” that the number of sexual assaults [at Colgate] is low

Colgate Benchmark
(210 respondents)

Information and Education

Students received information or education from Colgate on...

Statement Colgate Benchmark
What sexual assault is and how to recognize it 89.3%
(636 respondents)
How to report an incident of sexual assault 81.2%
(578 respondents)
Procedures for investigating a sexual assault 62.6%
(446 respondents)
Actions you can take to help prevent sexual assault 83.8%
(597 respondents)

Unwanted Sexual Contact

Unwanted sexual contact, defined:

Such as someone making sexual comments about your body; someone making unwelcome sexual advances, propositions, or suggestions to you; or someone telling you sexually offensive jokes or kidding about your sex or gender-specific traits.

Such as sending you sexual emails, texts, or pictures; posting sexual comments about you on blogs or social media; showing you sexually offensive pictures or objects; leering at you or making lewd gestures towards you; or touching oneself sexually in front of you.

Such as someone briefly groping you, rubbing sexually against you, pinching you, or engaging in any other brief inappropriate or unwelcome touching of your body.

How often have you experienced the following forms of unwanted sexual contact while you were [at Colgate]?

Unwanted conduct Frequency Colgate Benchmark
Verbal behaviors At least once 71.5%
(489 respondents)
Never 28.5%
(195 respondents)
Nonverbal behaviors At least once 32.3%
(221 respondents)
Never 67.7%
(463 respondents)
Brief physical contact At least once 63.2%
(432 respondents)
Never 36.8%
(252 respondents)

Sexual Assault

Have you been sexually assaulted* [at Colgate]?

Response Colgate Benchmark
Yes 11.9%
(85 Respondents; 80 Women)
Suspect I was, but not certain 5.6%
(40 Respondents; 36 Women)

*Sexual assault includes touching of a sexual nature, oral sex, vaginal sex, anal sex, anal or vaginal penetration with a body part other than a penis or tongue, or by an object, like a bottle or candle.

The following questions were only answered by 85 respondents that answered “yes” to “Since starting at Colgate, have you been sexually assaulted while you were on campus or while you were off campus during an event or program sponsored by Colgate?”

Acts During Sexual Assault

When you were sexually assaulted, which of the following happened? (Check all that apply)

Sexual act Colgate Benchmark
Touching of a sexual nature 95.2%
(80 Respondents)
Oral sex 25.0%
(21 Respondents)
Vaginal sex 48.8%
(41 Respondents)
Anal sex 3.6%
(3 Respondents)
Anal or vaginal penetration by body part other than penis, or tongue, or by an object 7.1%
(6 Respondents)

This incident of sexual assault involved...

  Colgate Benchmark
[Threat of] physical force, or using coercion/intimidation 31.7%
(26 Respondents)
[Use of] physical force against you 58.8%
(47 Respondents)
Other people drinking alcohol 94.0%
(78 Respondents)
Other people using drugs 22.0%
(18 Respondents)
Your drinking alcohol 89.2%
(74 Respondents)


When in your academic career did the sexual assault occur?

First year 44.0%
(37 Respondents)
Second year 23.8%
(20 Respondents)
Third year 15.5%
(13 Respondents)
Fourth year 3.6%
(3 Respondents)
Summer, but on campus or at Colgate event 6.0%
(5 Respondents)
Other 7.1%
(6 Respondents)


Location of sexual assault

Residential building 73.5%
(61 Respondents)
Nonresidential building 10.8%
(9 Respondents)
Off-campus (but not at another college or university) 15.7%
(13 Respondents)

Relationship to Assailant

Relationship to people who sexually assaulted you (check all that apply)

Stranger 31.0%
(26 Respondents)
Non-romantic friend 52.4%
(44 Respondents)
Casual date or hookup 27.4%
(23 Respondents)
Current romantic partner 2.4%
(2 Respondents)
Ex-romantic partner 2.4%
(2 Respondents)
Other 3.6%
(3 Respondents)

Full Results

This page shares a summary of the survey results, including items of highest concern. The full set of survey results is also available on the institutional planning and research survey page.



These findings are serious and troubling. They are not just numbers, but the voices of our students. We are actively working to educate students and prevent sexual assault in our community. But while Colgate has supported a number of programs to confront these problems, there is still much more to be done.

  • Online sexual violence prevention training is mandatory for new students, all student leaders, and student-athletes
  • Led successful effort to establish Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) coverage for Hamilton

Go to Haven landing page

Haven is a sexual violence resource center that provides confidential care, support, advocacy, and trauma-informed clinical services for survivors.