Hello EDEQUITY members:
Today we focus our discussion on sexual harassment and violence in higher
education. As you know, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 covers
sexual harassment in institutions of higher education. Since the impact
and scope of the sexual harassment and violence problem on college campuses
first were recognized during the early 1980s, attention has been focused on
the problem. Campuses have developed policies, procedures, extensive
training programs, and materials that seek to identify and prevent sexual
harassment and promoted conferences and symposia addressing the problem.
Yet, in spite of these initiatives and perhaps as a result of heightened
awareness of sexual harassment as a problem, the frequency of complaints on
college and university campuses has increased. Here is some background
information compiled by the WEEA Equity Resource Center:
The majority of sexual harassment complaints come from female students,
faculty, and staff, and some studies indicate that most undergraduate
female students are the victims of some form of sexual harassment by at
least one of their professors during their undergraduate years. (R. O.
Riggs, "Sexual Harassment in Higher Education: From Conflict to Community,"
ERIC Digest 1993).
In 1990, more than 60 percent of college presidents in one survey of large
research and doctorate institutions said sexual harassment was a problem.
(E. L. Boyer, A Special Report, Campus Life: In Search of Community
(Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching,
Little statistical data is available on sexual harassment at community
colleges, although clearly such harassment does exist. (J. Holub,
"Addressing Sexual Harassment on Campus," ERIC Digest 1996).
A 1993 summary in the Chronicle of Higher Education showed that 2,350
postsecondary institutions reported campus crime statistics for 1991,
including 30 murders, 993 rapes, 1,822 robberies, 4,669 aggravated
assaults, 32,127 burglaries, and 8,981 car thefts. Except for rapes, the
data were not disaggregated by gender.
Another 1993 study by C. J. Palmer, "Violent Crimes and Other forms of
Victimization in Residence Halls" (Asheville, NC: College Administration
Publications, Inc, 1993) showed that residence halls were the site of
significant violence, including violence against women. Based on reported
incidents and on the administrators' assessments of the actual amount of
violence, the report notes that women in residence halls experienced the
greatest amount of violence and harassment.
Sexual assault continues to be one of the most visible forms of violence
against women students on campus and is often linked to alcohol and drug
abuse, according to reports and research compiled by the Higher Education
Center for the Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse.
Research on the frequency of sexual assaults committed by college men,
summarized in one report, indicates that 25 to 60 percent of college men
have engaged in some form of sexually coercive behavior. (A.D. Berkowitz,
Men and Rape: Theory, Research, and Prevention Programs in Higher
Education.) Often this violence seems tied to the culture that promotes
violence as masculine, defines women as objects, and allows certain males
especially athletes to avoid consequences for their behavior, according to
Jeffrey R. Benedict, former research coordinator at Northeastern
University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society. ( J. R. Benedict,
Athletes and Acquaintance Rape (Thousand Oaks/London/New Delhi: Sage,
A 1995 study of 10 universities with extensive sports programs found that
athletes were six times as likely to be reported for sexual assault, and a
three-year study (1988-1991) by the National Institute of Mental Health
found that male athletes perpetrated roughly one-third of the 862 sexual
attacks reported on college campuses.
Since colleges and universities are expected to provide safe learning and
working environments in which all members of academic communities may
pursue their studies, scholarship and work without bias or intimidation,
please share resource and strategies that institutions can take to elimiate
sexual harassment and violence from instituions of higher learning.
Susan J. Smith
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