Be Informed: Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2023

The most recent campus climate surveys continue to show unacceptable levels of sexual assault affecting students at Cornell University, Ithaca College, and Tompkins Cortland Community College.

DOWNLOAD: Be Safe at College in Ithaca Resources

Among Cornell female seniors participating in Cornell’s 2021 survey, 30.3 percent—nearly one in three—reported being victims of sexual assault during their years in college.

Without breaking down data by sex or type, a report on Ithaca College’s 2022 survey indicated 29 percent of all respondents said they experienced “unwanted sexual behavior” defined as unwanted sexual contact, unwanted sexual interactions, relationship violence, or stalking. Forty-seven percent of those reporting unwanted sexual behavior said it involved contact, defined as rape, assault, or nonconsensual sexual touching.

Four percent of female students in Tompkins Cortland’s 2021 survey said they were sexually assaulted.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a good opportunity to spread education about the prevalence of sexual violence on campus and what we can all do about it.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), which operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline, says that college women aged 18-24  are at three times greater risk for assault than all women.

Among undergraduates nationwide, 26.4 percent of females, 6.8 percent of males, and 23.1 percent of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming) college students have been sexually assaulted, according to RAINN. (College women aged 18-24 are 20 percent less likely than their non-student peers to be assaulted.)

“College campuses can give you a sense of security, a feeling that everyone knows each other and watches out for one another,” says RAINN. “There are perpetrators who take advantage of this feeling of safety and security to commit acts of sexual violence.”

RAINN provides several web pages listing ways to stay safe on campus.

  • Know your resources, such as the campus health center, campus police station, and a local sexual assault service provider.
  • Put the campus security number in your cell phone.
  • Stay alert when you’re moving around on campus or in the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Be careful about posting your location.
  • Make others earn your trust.
  • Think about Plan Bs, back-up plans for potentially sticky situations.
  • Lock your door and windows when you’re asleep and when you leave the room.
  • Be alert in social situations, watch out for friends, don’t leave anyone stranded.
  • Protect your drink at parties.
  • Know your alcohol limits and watch your friends’ behavior.
  • Lie if necessary when you need to get yourself or friends out of uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situations.
  • Be an Upstander and use bystander intervention techniques to protect someone who may be at risk.

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or chat online at If you are in immediate danger, call 911.