UNC Chapel Hill sexual assault rates continue to rise, shown by recent survey

Ava Riach, Business Manager

A survey released in early October 2019 showed that a third of female undergraduates at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC) reported sexual assault during their time as a student. The News and Observer reported, “Almost half of young women in their fourth year or more of attending UNC reported experiencing nonconsensual sexual touching or penetration during college, according to the 2019 survey by the Association of American Universities.”

Nearly 6,000 students participated in the survey that was published to help combat sexual assault on campuses. The rates were higher than the 2015 survey, where out of 5,212 students, 12.9 percent reported experiencing sexual assault. 

For male students, 10 percent of undergraduate men and 15 percent of undergraduate men in their fourth year or higher said they were nonconsensually touched or penetrated. Transgender men and women are also a target for these acts. 26 percent reported nonconsensual touching or penetration, with it rising to 29 percent for students in their fourth year or higher. Graduate students experience a lesser rate of sexual assault, with 16 percent of women, 16 percent of transgender students and six percent of men reporting that they experienced sexual assault while attending UNC Chapel Hill. 

Of all of these reports, 40 percent of undergraduate women said they feel as though they will experience sexual assault or misconduct in their time at UNC Chapel Hill, stated The News and Observer. It has been found that most of the offenders were UNC Chapel Hill students or is someone that the victim knew, with reports coming in at 72 percent. Incidents also commonly involved alcohol and occurred on campus. 

Although all of these events occurred, less than 20 percent of the sexual assaults that occurred were officially reported to police. This is because students felt as though their experience was not serious enough to be reported and because drugs or alcohol were involved. For those who had gone to seek help, almost 60 percent said off-campus police were “not at all useful,” according to UNC.

 Because of these events taking place throughout the years, UNC has formed an organization called the Sexual Assault Task Force. The team was put in place to provide support services and resources, and to strengthen training programs. They plan to have a group of students and teachers to help create strategies to prevent sexual assault from happening and raising awareness on consent and bystander intervention. 

The main quad area at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.