Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Janet Jacobs

Second Advisor

Dr. Sanyu Mojola

Third Advisor

Dr. Emmanuel David

Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses and the trend of underreporting by survivors. To understand what mechanisms may encourage or discourage reporting on the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder) campus, this study utilized qualitative data gathering in the form of focus groups and an interview with CU-Boulder undergraduates. The initial goal of the research was to assess students’ awareness of Title IX and reporting resources; over the course of this study, additional data emerged indicating the presence of a norm of self-censorship among the student population. The findings of this work thus suggest that underreporting may be partially due to students’ lack of knowledge or mistrust of the reporting system, as well as a culture of silence based in perceived norms and feared social sanctions. To correct the trend of underreporting, additional research is recommended on the depth of this lack of knowledge, the norms of self-censorship, and how the university may begin to reduce these layers of silencing on campus.