Chancellor's Letter to Students

To All CU-Boulder Students:

One of my top priorities as Chancellor is your safety. I am writing to let you know that CU-Boulder has taken another critical step forward in addressing sexual misconduct by learning the extent of which it exists for our own students. From Oct. 19 through Nov. 16, 2015, CU-Boulder conducted a sexual misconduct survey of undergraduate and graduate students. I want to thank you for the tremendous participation rates. More than 13,000 of our students, representing 41 percent of the total student population, responded to the email invitation to take part in the survey.

The Phase I results, released today, reflect what a serious concern this remains. Of the 13,009 who responded—male, female, graduate and undergraduate—the aggregate rates for sexual misconduct experienced on or off campus are as follows:

  • 1,990 (15%) reported experiencing sexual assault (ranging from unwanted sexual touching to penetration);
  • 509 (4%) reported experiencing sexual exploitation;
  • 2,315 (18%) reported experiencing sexual harassment;
  • 1,302 (10%) reported experiencing intimate partner abuse; and
  • 839 (6%) reported experiencing stalking.

Among undergraduate students, the aggregate sexual assault results are:

  • 28% of women (1,545 students) reported experiencing sexual assault; and
  • 6% of men (296 students) reported experiencing sexual assault.

Among graduate students, the aggregate sexual assault results are:

  • 10% of women (111 students) reported experiencing sexual assault; and
  • 2% of men (35 students) reported experiencing sexual assault.

Like other universities that have released survey results about rates of sexual misconduct experienced by their students (AAU/Westat, Michigan State, Missouri, Harvard, Cornell), CU-Boulder sees our survey results as a continuing call to action.

As Chancellor, I want you to know that I have made your safety and the safety of our campus community a top priority for my entire leadership team. We have made tremendous strides in realigning our personnel and process to combat sexual misconduct – including an independent audit of our policies and practices; hiring a former U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney to lead our efforts; creating a new campus office with an increased staff of educators, investigators, and support specialists with backgrounds in addressing sexual misconduct and other types of trauma; and creating a new Rapid Response Team. This new data will inform and focus our efforts. You will be seeing more information on how you can help yourself and your friends be safe. We must ensure that all students understand and know where to access reporting options and support services. We must prevent and respond to sexual misconduct to keep our community safe.

We will continue to be transparent and forthcoming with our data and keep you apprised. We will release additional results of our survey as they are ready. (Link to Data Analysis Plan) Findings from ongoing analyses of the survey data will further shape and refine our prevention and response efforts. We will also survey the student body every three years to help us benchmark the results of our efforts.

Remember: it’s on us, together, to combat sexual misconduct, in all its forms, on our campus and in our community.

To see the survey summary and learn more about next steps go to


Philip P. DiStefano

If you are the victim of sexual misconduct, you have many options for reporting, services, and assistance. For more information visit Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance at: Retaliation for reporting is strictly prohibited. For free and confidential support please contact CU-Boulder’s Office of Victim Assistance (OVA) at 303-492-8855.