Opinion Surveys

Four opinion surveys reveal Americans place far greater confidence in the criminal justice system than in campus committees to handle sexual assault allegations:

1. A 2015 Newport University poll of 1,062 registered voters in Virginia found 90% of respondents said that colleges should be required to report sexual assault allegations to police, while only 7% of respondents believed colleges should handle these cases.

2. A national 2015 survey by Penn Schoen Berland found 91% of likely voters believe that the justice system, not colleges, should be primarily responsible for deciding if students are guilty of sexual misconduct or assault (Table 5).

3. The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a national survey (highlighted in a subsequent March 15, 2015 survey)  among a representative sample of U.S. adults. The survey found:

  • How big a problem is campus sexual assault (page 4):
    • Big: 57%
    • Somewhat: 31%
    • Small: 6%
    • Not much of a problem: 3%
    • No opinion: 3%
  • Whether sexual assault complaints should be investigated by the police or colleges (page 16):
    • Police: 60%
    • Colleges: 30%
    • Depends: 5%
    • No opinion: 4%

4. SAVE survey of 400 California voters conducted in December 2016. The survey was administered to persons with landline telephones, and therefore cannot be considered representative of all voters in that state:

1. How big of a problem, if at all, do you think sexual assault is on college campuses today?

  • Big problem: 69.4%
  • Small problem: 16.2%
  • Not much of a problem: 14.4%

2. Which of the following comes closer to your view: As a serious crime, sexual assault complaints should only be investigated by police; or as an issue regarding student conduct, is it appropriate for colleges to investigate sexual assault cases?

  • Police: 68.5%
  • Colleges: 31.5%

3. Once the investigation is completed, who should make the determination of innocence or guilt: the criminal justice system or the campus disciplinary committee?

  • Criminal justice: 89.1%
  • Campus disciplinary: 10.9%

4. How big of a problem, if at all, are false allegations of sexual assault on campus?

  • Big problem: 44.0%
  • Small problem: 41.6%
  • Not much of a problem: 14.4%

5. What is your party affiliation?

  • Democrat: 43.8%
  • Republican: 30.0%
  • Independent: 26.2%

6. What is your gender?

  • Male: 36.9%
  • Female: 63.1%

7. How old are you?

  • 30 years or under: 3.7%
  • 31 to 50 years: 13.9%
  • 51 years or older: 82.5%