UH Sexual Harassment Survey Indicates Increases In Reported Cases

Feb 8, 2020

A 2019 University of Hawaii student survey shows an increase in sexual harassment and unwanted contact reports despite efforts to address the problem.

The survey of 6,300 students, or 15.5 percent of students in the university system, reflects an increase over 2017 numbers in unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment, stalking and dating/domestic violence.

UH students were asked about their experiences at "anytime and anywhere":

• 7.2 percent reported nonconsensual sexual contact (6.3 percent in 2017)
• 12.7 percent reported being sexually harassed (9.3 percent in 2017)
• 10.6 percent reported being stalked (9.7 percent 2017)
• 21.3 percent said they were victims of dating or domestic violence (19.1 percent in 2017)

University officials attribued the increases to more awareness of sexual harassment at UH and the advent of the #MeToo movement. 

“With greater awareness, we believe more students will feel safe and will utilize the confidential resources available to get the help they need,” said UH President David Lassner.

The university pointed to a national survey by the the Association of American Universities that indicates UH numbers are lower than that of other colleges and universities in rates of unwanted sexual contact and sexual harassment but higher in stalking and dating/domestic violence.

UH accounted for this by noting that its survey defined stalking and dating/domestic violence more broadly than the national survey.

The university also pointed to its survey results that show 86.3 percent said they felt little or no personal risk of sexually harassment or assault on campus.

UH officials plan to use the survey results to assess its policies and programs in meeting the Violence Against Women Act and Title IX, the federal anti-sexual discrimination law. 

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights found the university failed to comply with the requirements of Title IX in a review that began in 2013 and covered cases from 2010 through 2016. OCR said among other deficiencies, the university did not meet federal requirements in processing complaints of sexual harassment and violence.

The university reached a resolution agreement in 2017 with the OCR committing to resolve its issues, including implementing policies and procedures to respond in a timely way to reports of harassment and violence. 

Students can report any cases of sexual harassment to Title IX coordinators on each campus or use an online form to submit a report. But if students are in danger and need immediate help, they should call the police at 911. Police investigate the reports separately from the university.