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On Your Campus

Summary of the Initiative

Unfortunately, sexual harassment and assault does occur at hundreds of universities around the country, and the College of Charleston is not an exception. But, the good news is our students are committed to making a difference. Increasing awareness of sexual and gender violence issues and informing students about rape myths are just the start. We hope to sufficiently and efficiently equip the student body with the tools it needs to prevent a risky situation from escalating into violence. Sexual victimization is preventable when students are willing and able to help.

We understand the fear and uncertainty that prevents action. In many instances alcohol is involved, you may not know the people involved, and you don’t want to ruin a good time. The It’s Your Place campaign aims to educate students about the warning signs of potential sexual violence and how to intervene in safe and often non-intrusive ways.  Even small actions can make a difference and engaging in conversations about consent and victimization is a great start. Together we can make our school and our city a safer, more comfortable place for everyone.

  • Keep an eye out for posters, videos, texts, and social media posts about bystander intervention.
  • Explore the resources on this website and elsewhere on campus.
  • Talk with friends.
  • Make a plan.
  • Let us know how we can help!

Summary of the Research Project

Existing literature indicates that across the United States 1 in 5 women have been sexually victimized at some point during their college careers. These experiences can include sexual harassment, assault, and rape. And although random acts of violence do occur, the large majority of assailants know their victims before the attack. Some unique aspects of the collegiate subculture make assaults and harassment significantly more likely, such as the open access to alcohol and the Greek-life subculture among other factors.

The College of Charleston saw a need to include sexual misconduct and bystander awareness on campus. A research-based project was carried out by the Women’s Health Research Team  http://hhp.cofc.edu/research-studies/whrt/   to gather information about what students at the College of Charleston know and perceive about sexual assault, sexual harassment, and bystander intervention, and how they would most like to learn about these topics. Focus groups representative of the student body were conducted and analyzed for major themes related to the study purpose. This study set the groundwork basis for the Bystander Intervention Campaign: It’s Your Place.

Focus Groups:
In focus groups, College of Charleston students were asked about their perceptions of sexual violence on campus. Many female students reported knowing somebody who had experienced harassment or assault personally and that such events occurred regularly, if not frequently. Confusion about the nature of consent was a prevalent theme throughout all groups with one female participant noting “I feel like guys kind of feel entitled to it, it’s not like I’m going to rape this girl, it’s like she probably wants to have sex with me, so I’m going to have sex with her.”

To counteract the sobering statistics on sexual misconduct, many programs have been put in place across the country to empower members of the campus communities to become active bystanders in preventing sexual misconduct. Previous research has shown the importance of approaching all members of the community as potential helpers instead of as part of the problem. Members of our campus community echoed the willingness of students to help each other, providing ways that they had helped friends, acquaintances, and even strangers avoid dangerous situations and get home safe.

In order to get the word out about safe and effective ways to intervene, focus group participants were asked about their preference for how to receive information. From those results, a mixed-media campaign has been formulated and we look forward to sharing it with the community! If you have any questions related to the research behind the bystander intervention campaign please contact whrt@cofc.edu.

 

 

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