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The Chilling Climate: Stakeholder Perspectives of Sexual Assault Reporting Procedures on the College Campus

Hayley Alycia D'Antuono, Johnson & Wales University


Sexual assault reporting rates remain low on college campuses due to many barriers, including lack of knowledge about navigating the reporting process (Yoshimura & Campbell, 2016). Additionally, newly implemented Title IX regulations require a formal complaint in order to hold the perpetrator accountable and provide appropriate resources to the survivor (Office of Civil Rights [OCR], 2020). Filing a formal complaint on college campuses helps to mitigate harm and provides students with academic, emotional, and legal support (Holland et al., 2018). Without adequate support, students may experience mental health issues and their educational experience may be negatively impacted (Jordan et al., 2014). There is minimal research regarding the reporting procedures designed to aid victims of sexual assault. Therefore, this qualitative descriptive study explored campus stakeholder perspectives regarding sexual assault reporting procedures, guided by the following research question: How do sexual assault experts and college stakeholders describe the process of filing a formal complaint for sexual assault victims on college campuses? This study sought the perspectives of college stakeholders (N = 7) who work with reporting processes at small private institutions in the Northeast (N = 4), and experts (N = 3), regarding campus sexual assault reporting procedures. Data collection began with expert interviews (N = 3), followed by interviews with campus stakeholders (N = 7). Documents (N = 4) pertaining to policies and procedures for reporting sexual assault, plus Clery Reports (N = 4), were analyzed for corroboration with interview findings. Interview data were analyzed using Giorgi’s holistic analysis (1985); Krippendorff’s (2019) content analysis guided the document analysis. Five major themes emerged from this study: (1) “We move with the student,” (2) “That’s what keeps us up at night,” (3) “A chilling climate,” (4) “Prepared to support students,” and (5) “An ethical obligation.” Results of this study may help higher education institutions increase the effectiveness of their reporting policies and response procedures, which may increase rates of victims filing formal complaints. The findings of this study could also lead to a more supportive and survivor-centered approach for individuals who come forward with formal complaints of sexual assault.

Subject Area

Higher education|Education Policy|Mental health

Recommended Citation

D'Antuono, Hayley Alycia, "The Chilling Climate: Stakeholder Perspectives of Sexual Assault Reporting Procedures on the College Campus" (2021). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI28546744.