Three in 10 female students experienced 'incidents that correspond to rape' in college 3 months ago

Three in 10 female students experienced 'incidents that correspond to rape' in college

"There are many findings of the report that are shocking and quite upsetting..."

Three in 10 female students have experienced "incidents that correspond to rape" in college, while one in 10 male students report the same.

A new national survey conducted by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and NUI Galway’s Active Consent Programme showed that 29 percent of female students, 28 percent of non-binary students, and 10 percent of male students have experienced non-consensual penetration through force, threat of force, or while incapacitated and unable to give consent.

A considerable number of students said that they did not report their experience because they did not think it was serious enough, while over 70 percent said that they didn't know what would happen if they reported an incident in college.

Over 6,000 students from 21 institutions took part in the national sexual experiences survey.

The study, published today, also shows that over half of first years students have experienced sexual harassment since beginning college. This number increased to 62 percent for second year students, and 66 percent for students in third year or higher.

Over half of students with a disability reported experiencing sexual misconduct during their time in college, compared to 42 percent of other students.

Pádraig MacNeela, senior lecturer at NUI Galway and Active Consent programme leader, says that while the survey does highlight some positives regarding support from peers, the number of students who have experienced sexual assault and violence are considerable.

“Over 1,000 of the female students who took part in the survey described incidents that correspond to rape, while one quarter of male students said they had been subject to sexual misconduct during their time in college," he says. "Bisexual, non-binary, and queer students described particularly high levels of sexual harassment.”

USI president Lorna Fitzpatrick says that many of the findings of the survey are "shocking and upsetting."

"One that stood out to me from the report was that 'the most common reasons for non-disclosure were the belief that it was not serious enough, that the student handled it themselves, did not want anyone to know, or felt shame and embarrassment,'" she says in the report's foreward.

"This shows we have a lot to do within our college communities and our society to ensure students feel supported to come forward and report any instance of sexual harassment and violence."

USI vice president for welfare, Róisín O’Donovan adds: “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.

"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."

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this story, you can contact the Rape Crisis Centre's National 24-Hour Helpline on 1 800 77 8888.