Senior Project Advisor

Mary Hunt

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2021


sexual violence, sexual assault, campus sexual assault, college sexual assault, university sexual assault, rape


Introduction: Individual and structural factors like student demographic characteristics, a Greek system, Division I athletics, substance use, and university size, facilitate sexual violence (SV) on college campuses. This study examined SV experiences of students at Western Washington University, a large, residential, public school without a Greek system or major athletic presence.

Method: Data were collected from October 2020 to January 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. A large convenience sample (N = 924) of college students participated in an online survey. Participants were majority women (68%), white (77%), and identified as a variety of sexual orientations: heterosexual (52%), bisexual (24%), LGQ+ (24%). Participants responded to questions about unwanted sexual experiences by behavior and incidence of SA under five circumstances (e.g., force, coercion, ignoring refusals). They also described factors (e.g., location, substance use) of their most recent incident of SV during college. Results: One in five WWU students reported experiencing SV during college and 35.2% of WWU students reported experiencing SV before college. Gender expansive students, bisexual students, and women reported higher rates of SV than men and heterosexual students. SV often occurred in conjunction with alcohol (22.2%) at an off-campus apartment/house (34.5%) where the perpetrator was a casual acquaintance or hookup (32.8%).

Discussion: SV occurs on college campuses regardless of certain significant structural factors. Gender and sexual orientation are salient factors, with bisexual women experiencing the highest rates of SA. These data were used by the university prevention and wellness services to inform educational programming and counseling efforts.


Community Health

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

College students--Crimes against--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Sex crimes--Washington (State)--Bellingham; Rape in universities and colleges

Subjects - Names (LCNAF)

Bellingham (Wash.)

Geographic Coverage

Western Washington University


fieldwork (research)




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