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Perceptions of University Policies to Prevent Sexual Assault on Campus Among College Students in the USA

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Abstract

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13178-016-0245-x The purpose of this study is to assess correlations between attitude, opinions, and perceptions of sexual assault on campus and perceptions of university policies related to sexual assault among college students. Students (N = 507) at a large public university in the intermountain west region of the USA completed a survey in February and March 2015. Multivariable multiple regression was conducted to test the association between perceptions of students regarding university polices on sexual assault and individual factors. The factors that were predictive for student perceptions of sexual assault policy importance included student gender, affiliation with a campus organization, previous report of sexual assault to university officials, and adherence to particular anti-rape attitudes. Attitudes and perceptions of sexual assault may be very important for successful implementation of university policies related to sexual assault.
Tara K. St r e n g
1
&Akiko Kamimura
1
Published online: 5 August 2016
#Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016
Abstract The purpose of this study is to assess correla-
tions between attitude, opinions, and perceptions of sex-
ual assault on campus and perceptions of university
policies related to sexual assault among college students.
Students (N= 507) at a large public university in the
intermountain west region of the USA completed a sur-
vey in February and March 2015. Multivariable multiple
regression was conducted to test the association between
perceptions of students regarding university polices on
sexual assault and individual factors. The factors that
were predictive for student perceptions of sexual assault
policy importance included student gender, affiliation
with a campus organization, previous report of sexual
assault to university officials, and adherence to particular
anti-rape attitudes. Attitudes and perceptions of sexual
assault may be very important for successful implemen-
tation of university policies related to sexual assault.
Keywords Sexual assault .University policy .Safety .
Violence prevention
Introduction
Sexual assault is an extremely prevalent occurrence within
the American system of higher education. Previous stud-
ies have shown that close to 20 % of women have expe-
rienced a completed sexual assault by their senior year of
college (Krebs et al. 2009). Further, students attending
institutions of higher education are subject to increased
risk for sexual assault and rape than the general popula-
tion and may experience both at higher rates as well
(Joseph et al. 2013).
The negative health effects stemming from sexual
violence are extensive and well documented. Those
who have experienced sexual violence are more likely
to report psychological disorders such as the following:
major depressive disorder, anxiety, and post traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) (Kirkpatrick et al. 2007;
Nickerson et al. 2013). These survivors are also more
likely to abuse of drugs and alcohol and to drop out of
school compared to students who have never survived
sexual violence (Zinzow et al. 2011; Gidycz et. al.
2008). The development of psychological disorders and
their effects not only harm the students who have sur-
vived sexual assault, but also further disrupt the larger
academic community.
There is a trove of literature regarding proposed preventa-
tive measures for universities to address sexual violence.
However, student attitudes toward campus sexual assault
policies remain relatively undocumented. In 2014, The
White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual
Assault released its Not Alone report. The report advocates
for American institutions of higher education to adopt sexual
violence policies if they have none and also vies to reform
existing policies (White House Task Force to Protect
Students from Sexual Assault 2014). The Not Alone report
suggested recommendations in the following areas: reporting
policies and protocol, investigative policies and protocol,
grievance and adjudication procedures, prevention and educa-
tion policies, and training information for related faculty and
staff. Since the release of Not Alone, colleges and universities
have rapidly worked to reform their sexual violence policies.
*Akiko Kamimura
Akiko.kamimura@utah.edu
1
Department of Sociology, University of Utah, 380 S 1530 E, Salt
LakeCity,UT84112,USA
Sex Res Soc Policy (2017) 14:133142
DOI 10.1007/s13178-016-0245-x
Perceptions of University Policies to Prevent Sexual Assault
on Campus Among College Students in the USA
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... The 2017 rollback of Obama-era protections within Title IX have brought the issue into the realm of popular media and thus to the forefront of the American consciousness (Smith 2018;Suk Gersen 2017;Tolentino 2018). The problem has revealed itself to be widespread, with some projections indicating that one in four college women will experience some kind of sexual assault or sexual coercion during her time at university (Streng and Kamimura 2017;Wolitzky-Taylor et al. 2011). While colleges and universities have been actively policing and implementing policy regarding rape and sexual assault for over two decades, they still remain highly underreported crimes whose reported rates have not declined in the last fifty years (Armstrong, Hamilton, and Sweeney 2006). ...
... Those identifying as male made up about a quarter of respondents, and only about four percent identified as being non-binary. This is concurrent with the literature which has found that women generally make up the majority of those experiencing and disclosing about unwanted sexual experiences and sexual assault (Banyard et al. 2007;Brake 2017;Morgan and Kena 2017;Sinozich et al. 2014;Streng and Kamimura 2017). However, in the last few decades, research has also broadened the spectrum of victimization, making sure to include those who identify as male and those identifying as non-binary (van der Bruggen and Grubb 2014; Coulter et 40 al. 2017;Freyd 2014). ...
... Given the effect that attending a sexual assault prevention class had on disclosure practices, these mandatory sexual assault prevention classes in the first and possible second years could have a positive effect on future disclosure. Further, the current research suggests that the role of gender plays a large part in how the messages of sexual assault prevention are absorbed into the student consciousness, therefore single-gender classes and specialized programming could help deepen the message regarding prevention, disclosure, and reporting (Banyard et al. 2007;Streng and Kamimura 2017). By teaching bystander awareness as well as sexual assault prevention, these educational measures have the potential to change college cultural understandings 57 of sexual assault (Banyard 2014;Cox 2018;Potter et al. 2012 Southern Oregon University is predominantly Caucasian and initial analyses showed that race and ethnicity did not factor prominently into disclosure practices and were therefore excluded from subsequent analyses. ...
... Indeed, it has been found that educational programming makes the most statistically significant difference in the prevention of sexual aggression (McMahon, 2008). In the current study, participants encouraged that educational programming cover the process of reporting (e.g., how to report), and other research has likewise found that students encourage elucidating the process of reporting as a way to ultimately reduce the incidence of sexual aggression (Streng & Kamimura, 2016). Also in the current study, participants encouraged that they be given institution-specific sexual aggression statistics (an interesting finding to consider in light of their low perceptions of sexual aggression severity and frequency among UConn students), which aligns with consistent calls in other studies for prevention programming to be self-relevant (DeGue et al., 2014;Scheel, Johnson, Schneider, & Smith, 2001;Streng & Kamimura, 2016). ...
... In the current study, participants encouraged that educational programming cover the process of reporting (e.g., how to report), and other research has likewise found that students encourage elucidating the process of reporting as a way to ultimately reduce the incidence of sexual aggression (Streng & Kamimura, 2016). Also in the current study, participants encouraged that they be given institution-specific sexual aggression statistics (an interesting finding to consider in light of their low perceptions of sexual aggression severity and frequency among UConn students), which aligns with consistent calls in other studies for prevention programming to be self-relevant (DeGue et al., 2014;Scheel, Johnson, Schneider, & Smith, 2001;Streng & Kamimura, 2016). Affiliated participants also perceived providing more support for victimized students as important to reduce sexual aggression, again consistent with findings from the literature. ...
... Affiliated participants also perceived providing more support for victimized students as important to reduce sexual aggression, again consistent with findings from the literature. For example, other research has highlighted the importance of institutions' clear commitment to preventing sexual aggression (Streng & Kamimura, 2016), which is a form of supporting victimized students. Finally, in this study, affiliated participants also called for more consequences for perpetrators, which is a novel suggestion compared to those from other studies. ...
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Sexual aggression is a major public health issue in higher education settings. The overall objective of this study was to examine whether Greek-affiliated students differ from unaffiliated students in how they view sexual aggression, and in what types of strategies they believe could reduce it. This information can enhance the effectiveness of prevention efforts by facilitating more targeted and engaging programming. A convenience sample of 450 undergraduate students at a large public university in the northeastern United States completed a survey on their views of sexual aggression, including its meaning, severity, frequency, contributing factors, reporting, and importance. They also made suggestions for prevention efforts. ANCOVAs were used to test for group differences by affiliation, and whether these differences varied by gender. Affiliation differences were found in perceptions of severity and frequency of sexual aggression, with affiliated students perceiving less severity and frequency within Greek life than among college students generally while unaffiliated students perceived the opposite. Affiliated students also perceived sexual aggression as more important to address than unaffiliated students, reported being more aware of and involved with prevention programming, and saw less of a need for Greek life to receive its own specialized and separate prevention programming. Gender differences were also found, with female students consistently perceiving more severity and frequency than male students, as well as attributing sexual aggression more than male students to traditional beliefs about gender roles and sexual objectification. Female students also perceived sexual aggression as more important to address than male students, discussed it with peers more frequently, and defined it more negatively, emotionally, personally, and violently. Gender was found to moderate perceived importance to address sexual aggression, with unaffiliated male students perceiving it as least important and unaffiliated female students as most. All students, particularly female students, perceived sexual aggression to be underreported, and reporting students to face negative consequences as a result of reporting. Male students perceived over half of reports to be fallacious. Primary recommendations to reduce sexual aggression were educational approaches, more support for victimized students, and more consequences for perpetrators. Implications of study findings for prevention efforts are discussed.
... Maybe because hostile environment sexual harassment always entails an obvious power disparity between administrator and faculty or professor and student, such manifestations of gender and power are more likely to be researched than those that appear to be between student peers. Of literature on sexual harassment within higher education related to policy, none I've found mentions online harassment as different from offline harassment; online harassment is seen as a reflection of offline behavior (if mentioned at all) (American Association of University Professors, 2014; Bagley, Natarajan, Vayzman, Wexler, & McCarthy, 2012;Bradley, Deutsch-Feldman,, & Warren, 2011;Hall, Graham, & Hoover, 2004;Joubert, Van Wyk, & Rothmann, 2011;Malenczyk, 2013;McLeod, 2007;Napolitano, 2015;O'Connor, Schmidt, & Drouin, 2016;Penrod & Fusilier, 2010Streng & Kamimura, 2017;Woodward, Pelletier, Griffin, & Harrington, 2016). ...
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... While there exists literature on barriers to sexual assault disclosure as well as on students' perceptions of sexual assault on campus, research on students' perceptions, understandings, and knowledge of campus sexual assault policies and/or services (Garcia et al., 2012;Mancini et al., 2016;Nasta et al., 2005;Streng & Kamimura, 2017), particularly as it relates to sexual violence on Canadian campuses, is limited (Council of Ontario Universities, 2020; Quinlan et al., 2016). Students' opinions of campus adjudication of sexual assault, and students' likelihood of reporting sexual assault to campus authorities, also remains largely unexplored Orchowski et al., 2009;Taylor & Gassner, 2010). ...
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... Greater experience and salience of sexual assault may affect women's responses to disclosures. Women are more likely to believe that university sexual assault policies and resources are important and have greater knowledge about campus sexual assault resources than men (e.g., Banyard et al. 2007;Streng and Kamimura 2016;Walsh et al. 2010). Women are also less likely to engage in victim-blaming behavior in response to sexual assault (Grubb and Harrower 2008). ...
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