Poisoned Waters: Sexual Harassment and the College Climate1

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This study of 369 undergraduate students (59% female and 41% male, 4.7% African-American, 2% Latino/a-American, 3.6% International, and 88% White-American) found that both women and men were sexually harassed by faculty and other students with a similarly high frequency. More subtle forms of sexually harassing behaviors were experienced than were the more severe behaviors from both faculty and students. A greater tolerance for sexually harassing behaviors from faculty than peers was found. While more women than men used the label sexual harassment, few students of either gender who experienced specific harassing behaviors said they had experienced inappropriate behavior, and of those who said they had experienced inappropriate behavior, a very low percentage said they had experienced sexual harassment. It is hypothesized that the frequency of these behaviors is partly responsible for the lack of labeling.

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