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UNC-Chapel Hill Receives 'Very Concerning' Sexual Assault Data

An image of UNC's Old Well
Wikipedia Creative Commons

A new campus climate report shows that more than 20 percent of students surveyed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill experienced forceful or non-consensual sexual touching or penetration.  The survey was conducted at 33 leading research universities by the Association for American Universities.

Credit Screenshot / AAU Campus Climate Survey (2019)
AAU Campus Climate Survey (2019)
About one fifth of student respondents experienced unwanted sexual contact.

Only 17.5 percent of students who reported being touched non-consensually said they reached out to an official resource, program or law enforcement. Additionally, 82.5 percent of students who were assaulted said they told at least one other person.  

The top reason given by victims for not reporting sexual assault to a resource or program was their feeling that it was "not serious enough." Other top reasons included students saying they weren't "injured, or hurt," "events like this seem common," "it began consensually," or "alcohol or drugs were present."

"The data are very concerning and reinforce what we know to be true both on our campus and across the country: sexual assault and sexual harassment are serious problems that deeply affect our community," said UNC Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz in a statement.

Guskiewicz said he is creating a coalition to address the continuing problem of campus sexual assault and issues of reporting. 

"Within the next month, we will convene a coalition of students, faculty, and staff to help us develop a comprehensive strategy for prevention and awareness that will resonate with students," he  said. "As part of that effort, we will hold working sessions with subject-matter experts to help improve the University’s prevention programs, consent education and bystander intervention training." 

Credit Screenshot / AAU Campus Climate Survey (2019)
AAU Campus Climate Survey (2019)
The percentage of students who did not contact an official program, resource or law enforcement.

At UNC-Chapel Hill, 68 percent of respondents were at least somewhat knowledgeable about how the University defines sexual assault and other sexual misconduct. 

The AAU conducted similar surveys in 2015 and 2017. Compared to 2015, survey respondents reported a higher number of incidents at UNC-Chapel Hill, which indicated there is more familiarity with the definition of non-consensual sexual contact. 

You can read the data summary for UNC here. The entire report can be found here

Cole del Charco is an audio producer and writer based in Durham. He's made stories for public radio's All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Marketplace. Before joining Due South, he spent time as a freelance journalist, an education and daily news reporter for WUNC, and a podcast producer for WFAE in Charlotte.
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