Sexual assault is a significant problem on college campuses. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while they are in college. This summer, Corinne Smith ’17 is using a Levitt Summer Research Fellowship to assess sexual violence at Hamilton.

Working with Director of the Counseling Center and Lecturer in Psychology David Walden, she is building an analysis of sexual violence on campus and then developing program recommendations specific to Hamilton.

Smith’s project builds on sexual assault surveys that Walden conducted between 2009 and 2014, along with a survey conducted by the College in 2015. She is using these surveys to gain a better understanding of students’ experiences with and thoughts about sexual violence.

One of the things her research has impressed upon her is the broad range of responses. She commented, “I have learned that this campus community has a wide range of experiences with sexual violence.

The diversity of experiences leads to varying opinions about the education, prevention and adjudication of sexual violence on this campus.”  

Through her project, Smith aims to take this complexity into consideration. “Sexual violence prevention is most effective when we acknowledge the full scope of the issue,” she noted.

Despite the complexity of sexual violence, Smith found that there are some common themes associated with it at Hamilton. She remarked that “these common themes are essential to future prevention and education efforts.”

In particular, Smith and Walden hope to identify areas of Hamilton’s culture that are associated with sexual violence. Smith noted that it is vitally important to understand the issue of sexual assault within a specific community. This will enable them to develop tailored solutions that fit the Hamilton community’s needs.

In the second half of the summer, Smith and Walden are working together to develop program recommendations to reduce sexual violence at Hamilton.

Their research process includes examining sexual violence education and prevention efforts at Hamilton’s peer institutions. They hope to identify programs that address the experiences relayed in Walden’s surveys. Smith and Walden will then recommend pilot programs to Hamilton.

Smith says that her research so far has enabled her to “better understand the larger conceptual framework” of the issues surrounding sexual violence. She and Walden have formed a detailed picture of the range of experiences and opinions surrounding sexual violence on campus, and Smith is hopeful that this knowledge will enable them to create “a safer environment for everyone.”

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