Education

Survey: Nearly 1 in 4 UNC undergraduate women experience unwanted sexual contact

More than 200 people participated in "Walk a Mile" April 9, 2015, on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill, an event aimed at reducing sexual assault and violence. A recent survey showed that 24.3 percent of undergraduate women experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact during their time as students at the university.
More than 200 people participated in "Walk a Mile" April 9, 2015, on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill, an event aimed at reducing sexual assault and violence. A recent survey showed that 24.3 percent of undergraduate women experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact during their time as students at the university. mschultz@newsobserver.com

A survey at UNC-Chapel Hill showed that 24.3 percent of undergraduate women experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact during their time as students at the university – with 12.5 percent saying they were victims of penetration involving force or incapacitation.

The UNC results, released Monday, were part of the first-ever Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct. UNC was one of 27 universities – and the only one in North Carolina – that participated in the large survey by the Association of American Universities. Across the country in April and May, 150,000 students took the surveys, which examined perceptions and prevalence of campus sexual assault.

Nationally among female undergraduates, 23.1 percent reported non-consensual sexual contact by physical force, threats or incapacitation since enrolling at their campuses.

UNC officials said they were still reviewing the data and analyzing results. The report was voluminous, with more than 100 pages of tables.

“These issues are deeply concerning for all university leaders and society as a whole,” Chancellor Carol Folt said in a statement. “I am proud that our University partnered with the AAU on this opportunity because learning more about what our students perceive and experience is vital to understanding how we can better address these issues.”

The survey response rate at UNC was 18 percent of students.

Here are some of UNC’s results:

▪ Rates of assault were much lower for male student victims. Among undergraduate men, 6.7 percent said they were victims of some form of unwanted sexual contact – penetration or sexual touching – in their time at UNC.

▪ Students aren’t sure how to step in to help others. Overall, 45.6 percent of the respondents said they had witnessed a drunken person headed for a sexual encounter but 77.3 percent said they did nothing to prevent it.

▪ Men and women have different perceptions of how the university would respond to a sexual assault. Only 26.1 percent of female undergraduates said it was very or extremely likely that campus officials would take action against an offender, compared to 45.1 percent of male undergraduates who took the survey.

Jane Stancill: 919-829-4559, @janestancill

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