Students Feel Safe on UH Campuses, Survey Shows

February 9, 2020, 6:00 AM HST (Updated February 8, 2020, 3:11 PM)
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Students on University of Hawai‘i campuses continue to feel safe on campus and at off-campus university events, according to a 2019 survey released this week.

On Feb. 7, the university released its latest biennial student survey on sexual harassment and gender-based violence, issues that are prevalent among college students nationwide.

“The biennial studies provide the data we need to understand where we have issues and, over time, how we are doing in addressing them,” said UH President David Lassner. “Optimal learning outcomes are nearly impossible to achieve if students are being harassed or worse, and we are committed to providing an equitable environment in which students can focus on their studies.”

Over 6,300 students, or 15.5% of UH’s approximately 40,861 adult students across its 10 campuses participated in the 2019 survey, a 1.4-point increase from 2017. According to the survey, an overwhelming majority of the students who participated (86.3%) indicated they felt little or no personal risk of being sexually harassed or sexually assaulted while on campus.

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To review all survey results, click here.

The survey consisted of 143 questions that covered four areas: prevalence of sexual harassment and gender violence, student assessment of the university’s response, student perceptions of campus safety and student awareness of policies, processes and programs.

On the question of how problematic sexual assault or harassment is at UH, 66.5 percent of students reported that the issue of sexual harassment and sexual assault at UH is a little problematic (27.3%) or not at all problematic (39.2%).

The 2019 survey updates the benchmarks set in the inaugural 2017 survey, among the first in the nation to cover the students of an entire university system — four-year universities, community colleges and graduate and professional schools, on- and off-campus.

Overall, student awareness of UH services increased. School officials say 86% of students reported that they had seen or heard of resources available to students experiencing gender violence. This is a 1% increase from the 2017 survey.

“With greater awareness, we believe more students will feel safe and will utilize the confidential resources available to get the help they need,” said Lassner.

Survey Results Show Increases

There was an increase of reported incidents in each of the four areas covered by the 2019 student survey, when compared to the 2017 survey results. UH officials say Tthis was expected with greater awareness of these issues on the campuses and in the national conversation with the #MeToo movement.

When students were asked about their experiences anytime and anywhere while enrolled at UH, data showed the following::

  • 7.2% reported nonconsensual sexual contact (6.3% in 2017)
  • 12.7% reported being sexually harassed (9.3% in 2017)
  • 10.6% reported being stalked (9.7% 2017)
  • 21.3% said they were victims of dating or domestic violence (19.1% in 2017)

The numbers dropped when students were asked about their experiences during the current academic year:

  • 2.9% reported nonconsensual sexual contact
  • 8% reported being sexually harassed
  • 6.1% reported being stalked
  • 12.1% said they were victims of dating or domestic violence

Moving Forward

The 2019 survey will be used to assess the effectiveness and update action plans, and the campuses will have more data available. Compared to 2017, the 2019 survey report provides more information of those accused of sexual harassment and gender-based violence including their relationship with the complainant and their association with the university.

The data will also be used to assess the university’s progress and to guide policy, training and initiatives to meet the university’s obligations under the Violence Against Women Act and Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sexual discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal funding. The climate survey was one of the many steps identified and pursued by the university to strengthen its Title IX response and support services. It received widespread support from state lawmakers and was mandated by the legislature through Act 208 in 2016.

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