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MIT unveils "disturbing" results of sexual assault survey

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has announced that it is taking several steps to address sexual assaults and other unwanted sexual behavior on campus.

The initiatives announced Monday are based in part on a survey sent to all of the university's nearly 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students. About 35 percent of the students responded.

The survey conducted by Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart found that of those women undergraduates who responded, nearly 17 percent experienced rape or sexual assault under conditions of force, threat of physical harm, or incapacitation. That's slightly lower than national numbers.

Five percent of male undergraduates who replied reported they had been sexually assaulted, the Boston Globe reported.

President L. Rafael Reif says he found the survey results "disturbing."

Among the changes, MIT is increasing staff to respond to those who experience sexual assault, and removing barriers that may prevent people from seeking help.

Report: Colleges not properly processing cases of sexual assault

A recent survey of colleges and universities found a lack of coordination between many campuses and local law enforcement in handling sexual assaults, and that many schools have gone years without investigating such cases.

About 40 percent of colleges and universities reported not having conducted a sexual assault investigation in the past five years, including 6 percent of the nation's largest public institutions. More than 20 percent of large, private schools conducted fewer investigations than the number of incidents reported to the Education Department.

In May, the federal government named colleges and universities that are facing investigations into their handling of sexual assaults.

Fifty-five colleges face sexual violence investigations

Across the country there has been a steady drumbeat of college students protesting what they call a lack of attention to sexual assaults on campuses. The government says one in five women will be sexually assaulted before graduation.

The release came two days after a White House task force promised greater government transparency on sexual assault in higher education. Going forward, the department said, it will keep an updated list of schools facing such an investigation and make it available upon request.

The agency previously would confirm such an investigation when asked, but students and others were often unaware of them.

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