Local College Students Define Sexual Assault

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A new study shows one in four women feel they have been sexually assaulted on a college campus.

The study was released this month by the Association of American Universities. The staggering numbers may be the reason why some colleges, like the University of Houston, have added more “sexual assault awareness” classes to their curriculum.

“All of our employees have to take a mandatory sexual assault misconduct and discrimination training related to scenarios on how to report sexual misconduct,” said Robert Baker, the Vice Chancellor and Vice President of Equal Opportunity Services.

Baker said these courses were added this year and will aim to help students and faculty understand how to handle cases of sexual harassment.

The new survey released suggests some women feel there are numerous ways they have felt assaulted sexually by men.

“I mean anything that makes a girl feel like unsafe and not comfortable I think can count as sexual assault,” said Phan, a U of H student. “A lot of people think it’s just like physical abuse or physically touching you but that’s not how it is.”

Some students told us they feel sexual assault can be as simple as verbal harassment.

“That can be harassment like words, texts, phone calls,  anything like that in a sexual manner,” said junior, Christine Smith. “It’s anything that you don’t want to happen to you that happens to you in a sexual manner.”
Other students felt similarly to Smith.

“I think it’s anything that makes a woman feel uncomfortable,” said senior, Jiselle Quinteros.

Baker said the school does have a standard definition of sexual assault, but that doesn’t mean they won’t consider a student’s case if they report something unrelated.

“Either way while the distinction is important to us and how we report issues, we want to make sure that they know where to get help.”