A survey of Ithaca College students in 2022 showed that 29 percent of respondents have experienced “unwanted sexual behavior” while attending the school.
The prevalence of such conduct is nearly double what respondents reported in a campus community survey six years earlier that included all Ithaca College faculty and staff as well as students.
Ithaca College campus
Since former President Shirley M. Collado took office in 2017, Ithaca College has demonstrated indifference to mandated campus climate surveys, and appears to have violated New York State’s “Enough is Enough” law during her four-year tenure.
According to the “Sexual Misconduct Climate Assessment Summary,” a report on the 2022 survey results by Ithaca College’s Title IX Office, almost half of the students reporting unwanted sexual behavior were victims of rape, sexual assault, or sexual touching.
Another in an occasional series of articles about campus sexual violence. For more information, go to The Sophie Fund’s Sexual Assault Page.
Twenty-six percent of the students who experienced unwanted sexual behavior said it included stalking, and 7 percent said it included relationship violence.
Almost half of the offenders were Ithaca College students, and about a quarter were described as friends or acquaintances. Between 25 percent and 30 percent indicated that the unwanted sexual behavior had occurred during their first year at Ithaca College, whereas less than 5 percent reported the behavior happening in their senior year.
More than 20 percent reported that alcohol was involved in the unwanted sexual behavior. More than 40 percent said the incidents occurred on campus, while 20 percent pointed to off campus locations.
A total of 83 percent of the victims of sexual misconduct did not report the incidents to college officials.
Altogether, 46 survey respondents reported unwanted sexual behavior and cited 71 instances. Twelve incidents were formally reported to college officials. The students reported being dissatisfied with the way their cases were handled in 11 instances, and only one student reported satisfaction with the outcome of their complaint.
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The Title IX Office said that all Ithaca College students were invited to participate in the survey during the summer of 2022. It said that 160 students completed the survey. Given the school’s total enrollment of 5,000 students, the survey response rate was poor at just 3 percent.
“The results serve to help our community identify opportunities for growth and improvement,” the Title IX Office report said.
The nine-page summary of the survey, conducted during the tenure of current President La Jerne Terry Cornish, glosses over many pertinent details, exact numbers and percentages, and breakdowns of results that are normally part of college surveys on sexual misconduct.
For example, in the section on unwanted sexual behavior, the summary does not provide a break down of victims by sex, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or class level; nor does it provide a break down by types of unwanted sexual contact (penetration, assault, or sexual touching).
Although more than four out of five students said that they did not report sexual misconduct to Ithaca College officials, the survey summary did not indicate their reasons for not doing so. Nor did the summary provide feedback on the physical, psychological, or academic impacts that the sexual misconduct had on the student victims.
The full report of Ithaca College’s 2022 climate assessment does not appear on the institution’s website; the college did not respond to The Sophie Fund’s requests to provide a copy.
On April 26, 2017, the college posted the full report of its 2016 campus climate survey on its website, but the link went dead by 2021. The survey was conducted during the tenure of former President Thomas R. Rochon.
Those results showed that 15 percent of all respondents—students, faculty, and staff—had experienced unwanted sexual conduct, and 3 percent reported experiencing unwanted sexual contact (rape, sexual assault, or sexual touching), according to an IC News announcement.
The announcement said that 3,823 people, or 46 percent of the campus community, took part in the 2016 survey; 74 percent were students, 12 percent faculty, and 14 percent staff. College officials also arranged for two public forums in May 2017 for the campus community to discuss “possible action items as a result of the survey.”
“Taking the results of this study and translating the findings into positive action is critical,” said then-Associate Provost Roger Richardson. “The college must take this opportunity to make important changes, offer different resources, and continue the conversation to make this a place where everyone feels like they can belong and thrive.”
Under the “Enough is Enough” law, further Ithaca College campus climate assessments were required in 2018 and 2020. In a March 22, 2023 editorial, The Ithacan student newspaper reported that no surveys were conducted during Collado’s time as Ithaca College’s president. “Not continuously conducting the survey does not allow for progress to be noticed, thus disallowing for change to be made,” said the Ithacan.
In 2021, The Sophie Fund made seven requests to Ithaca College’s Title IX Office, Office of General Counsel, and to Collado directly requesting copies of all Ithaca College campus climate survey reports; The Sophie Fund received no response from those Ithaca College offices. Another more recent request to the General Counsel, on March 6, 2023, went unanswered as well.
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Ithaca College must conduct the climate assessment surveys to be in compliance with New York State Education Law Article 129-B to combat collegiate sexual violence. Adopted in 2015, the “Enough is Enough” law requires colleges to submit and publish data reports no less than every other year on incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault.
Separately, in compliance with the “Enough is Enough” law, Ithaca College’s Title IX office reported 49 incidents of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking in 2020.
Also, Ithaca College’s Annual Security & Fire Report 2022 said that eight instances of rape, including seven in student housing, occurred in its jurisdiction in 2021. The figure represented a decline from 10 in 2020 and 14 in 2019.
According to a 2019 survey by the Association of American Universities (AAU), 25.9 percent of undergraduate women reported being the victim of rape, attempted rape, or sexual battery through force or incapacitation since entering college; 12.8 percent reported the same experiences for that current academic year.
Among undergraduates nationwide, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 26.4 percent of females, 6.8 percent of males, and 23.1 percent of transgender, genderqueer, and nonconforming (TGQN) students have been sexually assaulted.
Ways for Ithaca College students to report sexual assault:
Ithaca College Public Safety: 1-607-274-3333
Title IX Office: 1-607-274-7761
Ithaca Police: 1-607-272-9973
Advocacy Center of Tompkins County: 1-607-277-5000
National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline: l-800-656-4673