In the first survey of its kind in eight years, NUI Galway’s Active* Consent Programme in partnership with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) revealed that 29% of females, 10% of males, and 28% of non-binary students surveyed reported non-consensual sexual assault during their time in college.
A survey into the sexual experiences of third level students in Ireland has revealed a high rate of sexual assault among students in higher education in Ireland.
The survey results, published this morning by NUI Galway’s Active* Consent Programme in partnership with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), revealed that 29% of females, 10% of males, and 28% of non-binary students surveyed reported non-consensual penetration by incapacitation, force, or threat of force during their time in college. Of said students, 49% of males, 35% of females, and 25% of non-binary students had not disclosed their assault to anyone before taking the survey. 56% of respondents with a disability reported experiences of sexual misconduct, compares to 42% of other students.
Among survey respondents, over 50% first-year students, 62% for second-year students, and 66% of undergraduate students in third year or higher reported experiencing sexual harassment in the form of some form of sexual hostility since beginning college.
The Survey, conducted between February and April of 2020, was completed by 6,026 respondents. It is the first survey of its kind in eight years and assesses both experiences of sexual assault and harassment, as well as experiences of consent workshops, and respondents appraisals of the relevant college support.
Over 40% of respondents reported having a “high level” of awareness of four services available on campus to students affected by sexual misconduct (Counselling Service, Student Services, the Health Unit, and Students’ Union Welfare Officer.). Respondents who had attended workshops, events, or talks related to sexual conduct reported higher awareness of these supports than respondents who had no experience of education of this kind.
In a press statement, USI Vice-President for Welfare, Róisín O’Donovan said
“The USI was really pleased to partner with NUI Galway Active* Consent on the Sexual Experiences Survey to address some of the gaps in our knowledge around student perceptions and practices regarding sexual consent and misconduct. The fact that this survey received 6,000 responses shows this remains a huge issue among students, and we now have a lot of up-to-date information on students’ experiences. The last big survey like this we were involved in was the USI 'Say Something' survey back in 2013, so it was important we updated our knowledge.
“While a lot of work has been done in raising awareness of issues around consent, this research shows a gap in knowledge of how to report and what happens and should happen when a student makes a disclosure or report.
Under 10 per cent (of respondents who experienced sexual misconduct) said that they knew how to report an incident.
“In the survey just over 70 per cent of respondents who experienced sexual misconduct said they don’t understand what happens when a student reports an incident to their college, while only 16 per cent, again who had an experience, said they had received information on where to get help from their institution and just under 10 per cent said that they knew how to report an incident. These are areas that can be addressed very quickly by Higher Institutions and that needs to be one of the on-campus actions taken as a result of these survey findings.”
The USI represents over 374,000 students across the island of Ireland. UCDSU is not a member of the USI. Respondents for this survey are from 21 third level campuses across the Republic of Ireland, mainly from 14 colleges where all students were emailed before the Covid-19 lockdown.
The survey report can be found at http://www.nuigalway.ie/student-life/student-support/active-consent/our-research/ from noon on 22/06/2020.