Methods: Data were collected cross-sectionally in a self-administered online survey to college students (n=1,239) as part of a study to determine students’ experiences, behaviors, and attitudes related to sexual assault and campus climate in a northeastern university. Participants were also asked their awareness of campus resources and perception of their university’s response and handling of incidents, including reports of sexual violence. Most students (78.23%) resided off-campus and almost two-thirds were females (65%). Nearly 22% percent of students were Asian, about one-fifth (19.77%) was Black, and more than half of students were either Hispanic (26.23%) or White (28.09%).
Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) nested models were used to estimate the association between students’ awareness of campus resources and their perception of the university’s response to incidents of sexual violence as well as the moderating effects of students’ sense of campus community. Regression models included demographic variables, religiosity, and measures related to sexual violence.
Results: Results from all models indicate a positive relationship between students’ awareness of campus resources and perceived university response to incidents of sexual violence and this association remained robust in all 4 OLS models. When controlling for all covariates, results suggest an increase of 0.14, on a scale from 0 to 4, in students’ perception of the university response to incidents of sexual violence for each unit increase in students’ awareness of campus resources (p<.01).
While the association of awareness of campus resources with perception of university response to incidents of sexual violence is statistically significant for all participants, this association is stronger for students who have lower sense of campus community (coef= .25; p<. 01) than for those with a high sense of campus community (coef= .15; p<.05).
Implications: Findings highlight the importance of campus resources and students’ awareness of those resources. Campus efforts to address sexual violence should include increasing awareness of campus resources among students, particularly increasing awareness outreach to students who may have a low sense of campus community (such as those who live off-campus). These findings inform social workers’ efforts to understand and address students’ perceptions of how the university would respond to reports of sexual violence. Future studies could explore other measures related to prevention of campus sexual violence and their impact on students’ perceived university response.