Nearly 70 percent of college students have experienced some type of public harassment on campus, and many of them say it has negatively impacted their educational experience, according to a new survey commissioned by the Hollaback! group.
Hollaback! is an international nonprofit dedicated to fighting the lewd comments, threats, and other forms of street harassment that many women and LGBTQ individuals encounter when they step out into public. The group has developed a smartphone app to empower people to report street harassment whenever they see it. Now, Hollaback! wants to move beyond the streets and understand more about how harassment occurs on college campuses.
“Hollaback! receives requests every day from students wanting to get involved in the movement or wanting to start Hollaback!’s on campus,” Emily May, the co-founder and director of the group, told ThinkProgress in a statement. “On our sites, and in discussions with students, we were hearing that street harassment was a big problem on campus, but one that wasn’t being addressed.”
In order to help start to change that, the group partnered with outside consultants to conduct a survey asking college students about their experiences. The results were somewhat sobering. A full 67 percent of respondents said that they had experienced some type of harassment at school, and many of them said it impacted their learning experience. Twenty three percent said that the harassment caused them to skip out on class or other social activities, and 46 percent said that it “caused disappointment” about their overall college experience.
Hollaback! also asked college administrators whether their campuses’ current systems to report and address street harassment were sufficient, and over half — 55 percent — said no. Those results come on the heels of another recent survey that found U.S. colleges have much more work to do to ensure students’ safety. Just a week ago, two sexual assault prevention groups published data that reveals colleges still aren’t implementing the right policies to help lower the number of rapes on campus.
“At Hollaback! we believe that you have the right to feel safe in public space, whether you’re walking around campus or on the streets of your city. We want to work with students and educators to provide responses and solutions to street harassment,” May explained to ThinkProgress. “These statistics may be surprising, but we can all work together to respond to them and create safer spaces for everyone.”
Hollaback! recommends that college students who want to tackle the issue of harassment should work with their group to bring bystander awareness workshops to their schools. Those trainings can help teach people how to recognize street harassment when they see it, and empower them to take action to intervene.
That’s one of the same practical tactics that’s typically recommended to help prevent rape. Indeed, the two issues are somewhat intertwined; they’re often rooted in a lack of respect for women’s bodily autonomy. As Hollaback! explains on its site, “street harassment is a gateway crime that makes other forms of gender-based violence okay.” And some women report that they’ve experienced incidents of street harassment that have led to an assault.
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