Dear Members of the Brown Community,

In 2015, Brown was one of 27 universities that joined the Association of American Universities (AAU) in creating and conducting a landmark student survey on sexual assault and misconduct. In assessing the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses and collecting student views on sexual misconduct, the survey became the first to offer comparative national data on an issue that remains a serious challenge for all colleges and universities.

Earlier this year, Brown students were invited to take part in a follow-up survey, once again organized by the AAU. By participating in the 2019 AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct, we are able to measure changes in the prevalence of sexual and gender-based misconduct experienced by Brown students, and assess the impact of Brown’s work to increase students’ knowledge and improve their experiences with campus-based resources.

Later today, Brown’s Title IX and Gender Equity Office will release a report of the 2019 survey results for our campus, timed to coincide with the AAU’s release of the aggregate results from the 33 participating institutions. I encourage every member of our community to review Brown’s report and the included data, which cover not only sexual assault but also the important issues of sexual harassment, intimate partner violence and stalking. I also encourage you to read the full AAU national report, which places Brown’s results in the broader national context.

In the four years between surveys, Brown has taken a number of steps to improve the prevention and response to incidents of sexual and gender-based violence and harassment. Through the work of many leaders across campus — faculty, students and administrators — we created the Title IX and Gender Equity Office and launched a new, unified approach to resolving complaints promptly and impartially. We began required training for students, faculty and staff. We added staff focused on supporting students. And staff experts and student leaders have worked to expand sexual assault prevention and peer education programs, encouraging students to report incidents and seek support.

The results of this year’s survey reflect those efforts, with students indicating greater knowledge of resources and increased trust in the University’s efforts to prevent and respond to incidents. But the data also show that the prevalence of non-consensual sexual contact and gender-based harassment remain unacceptably high, both at Brown and at our peer institutions across the nation.

Every member of the Brown community must take responsibility for preventing sexual assault and contributing to an environment in which sexual violence or any form of gender-based harassment is not tolerated. I hope the survey results will prompt productive discussions on how we can advance our efforts toward that goal. I appreciate the efforts that so many of you have already made.

To all students, faculty and staff at Brown advancing our commitment to this essential work, and to all students who shared their experiences and perspectives through the AAU survey, I am deeply grateful.


Christina H. Paxson