Methods: Using data from the 27 IHEs that participated in the Association of American University’s 2015 Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, we estimated IHE-specific SH prevalence, including the prevalence of experiencing particular types of SH behaviors and the percentages of students victimized by perpetrators associated with the IHEs. We also examined whether students’ perceptions of risk of sexual assault/misconduct, knowledge regarding IHE policies/resources, and perceptions of IHE responses to sexual assault/misconduct varied between sexually harassed and non-harassed students.
Results: Results showed that between 37.1% and 55.7% of students at the 27 IHEs experienced SH (M=48.2%). Across the IHEs, fellow students were the most common perpetrators. Sexually harassed students were much more likely than non-harassed students to feel at risk for sexual assault/misconduct, and to have more negative views of IHE response to sexual assault/misconduct; however, sexually harassed students were fairly similar to non-harassed students in terms of their knowledge regarding IHE sexual assault/misconduct policies and resources. Sexually harassed students who contacted IHE resources/services had even more negative views of IHE responses to reporting sexual assault/misconduct than did sexually harassed students who did not contact these services.
Conclusions and Implications: The mean prevalence of SH was almost 50% across the 27 campuses, and SH was often perpetrated by other students. This highlights the need to create and test interventions specifically targeting SH. Prevalence of SH varied substantially across IHEs and students who experienced SH were not more knowledgeable about campus resources and services. Students need education on SH, including definitions and case examples, bystander intervention strategies, and resources. Students who experienced SH were less likely than non-harassed students to perceive that IHE officials would respond appropriately to student reports of sexual misconduct, with students who actually reported SH to IHE officials having the most negative views of IHE responses. Campus and federal laws and policies should encourage students to seek assistance for SH victimization and increase student knowledge of available support.