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On- and off-campus sex assaults, harassment reflected in new UH survey

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McCarthy Mall at the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus. About 9 percent of University of Hawaii students say they have been sexually harassed and 6 percent report experiencing unwanted sexual contact on or off campus, according to survey results released today.

About 9 percent of University of Hawaii students say they have been sexually harassed and 6 percent report experiencing unwanted sexual contact on or off campus, according to survey results released today.

Nearly one in five students who reported being in a partnered relationship while at UH said they had experienced intimate partner violence. That encompasses a wide range of behavior by a partner, including efforts to control their actions or social relations, as well as the threat of harm or use of physical force.

The university invited students on its 10 campuses statewide to participate in the survey from Jan. 20 to Feb. 20. It was the first comprehensive assessment gauging students’ experiences on campus as well as off campus while enrolled at UH. Officials said the survey was groundbreaking nationally for its scope and because it included intimate partner violence.

Students on UH’s 10 campuses were surveyed about their experiences both on and off campus. Highlights of the results:

6% reported experiencing nonconsensual sexual contact

9% experienced sexual harassment, including inappropriate remarks and offensive jokes

10% experienced stalking

19% of those who had had a partnered relationship experienced intimate partner violence, including efforts to control their activities or relationships as well as threats of physical force

Number of surveys completed: 6,311

Survey response rate: 14%

Date of survey: Jan. 20-Feb. 20, 2017

Full results are available here: http://808ne.ws/2CPpICX

Source: University of Hawaii

“This survey is the latest step we have taken to further our commitment to ensure safe and respectful campus environments,” UH President David Lassner said in a statement issued with the results. “Together with the findings, student feedback will help UH determine where to dedicate our resources and efforts moving forward.”

Altogether, 6,311 undergraduate and graduate students took part in the UH Student Climate Survey on Sexual Harassment and Gender-based Violence, for a response rate of 14 percent of the university’s adult students. “Gender-based violence” refers to physical and psychological abuse directed at a person due to their gender.

“We aren’t surprised by prevalence and incidence rates of domestic violence in the UH survey,” said Nanci Kreidman, chief executive officer of the Domestic Violence Action Center. “They reflect a larger societal problem. These numbers track the community and global statistics and UH doesn’t exist in a vacuum.”

Among the 6 percent of students who reported non-consensual sexual contact, less than a third said the incidents occurred on campus or at a university-associated property.

Of the nearly one in 10 students who experienced sexual harassment, 81 percent identified the offender as a fellow UH student, while 34 percent blamed a faculty member or staff, with some reporting both. Sexual harassment includes sexual remarks or insulting or offensive jokes, and inappropriate comments regarding body, appearance or sexual activity.

Among those reporting harassment, graduate students were twice as likely as undergraduates to point to faculty or staff as the offenders.

University officials conducted the survey as a baseline to gauge the situation, hoping to capture a clear picture of students’ lives on and off campus. The goal was to help UH better identify and address the needs of students.

Students aged 18 and up were urged to take the 20-minute, confidential survey on a voluntary basis via their personal computers and mobile devices.

Full results are available at hawaii.edu/titleix/climate-survey/results/.

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