Methods: In collaboration with the University of Kentucky and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an online survey was launched at two Southeastern public universities in Spring 2016. A total of 5,340 students completed surveys, comprising a response rate of 10.5%. Multiple linear regression was used to assess whether (1) sexual assault victimization among male students within the past scholastic year is predictive of perceptions of institutional support, (2) sexual assault victimization among female students within the past scholastic year is predictive of institutional support and (3) gender among sexual assault victims within the past scholastic year is predictive of institutional support. All models controlled for campus engagement, campus risk, housing type, sexual orientation, year in school, student status, campus group affiliations, athletic affiliation, Greek life affiliation, and university attended.
Results: Results from these analyses indicated that males and females who experienced a sexual assault had lower perceptions of university support than male or female non-victims (respectively). The main independent variable of interest (gender) was not a significant predictor of perception of institutional support among students who experienced a sexual assault. Male and female students have an equal and relatively neutral perception of institutional support. Other statistically significant predictors of perception of institutional support included more negative perceptions of support by sexual minorities and more positive perceptions by those with athletic affiliation among males. Among females, there were more negative perceptions of support for sexual minorities and those with higher numbers of campus group memberships as well as more positive perceptions of support for those with Greek life affiliation, higher campus engagement, and athletic affiliation. Finally, there were more negative perceptions of support for those with higher numbers of campus group membership and more positive perceptions of support for those with athletic affiliation among those who had experienced a sexual victimization.
Conclusions and Implications: It was hypothesized that because the majority of campus resources are primarily female centered, female students would have a greater perception of institutional support services, but this was not identified in these findings. However, the tepid perception of institutional support may be hindering universities’ ability to identify and provide services for those students who experience a sexual trauma. While differences were not identified by gender, participants’ results suggest that campuses may need to improve their outreach to victims, sexual minorities, and those with higher numbers of campus group affiliation as all had lower perceptions of institutional support than their peers.