Date of Completion
Sexual aggression; Greek life; definitions; perceptions; prevention
Stephanie Milan, Ph.D.
Michelle Williams, Ph.D.
Vicki Magley, Ph.D.
Field of Study
Doctor of Philosophy
Sexual aggression is a major public health issue in higher education settings. The overall objective of this study was to examine whether Greek-affiliated students differ from unaffiliated students in how they view sexual aggression, and in what types of strategies they believe could reduce it. This information can enhance the effectiveness of prevention efforts by facilitating more targeted and engaging programming. A convenience sample of 450 undergraduate students at a large public university in the northeastern United States completed a survey on their views of sexual aggression, including its meaning, severity, frequency, contributing factors, reporting, and importance. They also made suggestions for prevention efforts. ANCOVAs were used to test for group differences by affiliation, and whether these differences varied by gender. Affiliation differences were found in perceptions of severity and frequency of sexual aggression, with affiliated students perceiving less severity and frequency within Greek life than among college students generally while unaffiliated students perceived the opposite. Affiliated students also perceived sexual aggression as more important to address than unaffiliated students, reported being more aware of and involved with prevention programming, and saw less of a need for Greek life to receive its own specialized and separate prevention programming. Gender differences were also found, with female students consistently perceiving more severity and frequency than male students, as well as attributing sexual aggression more than male students to traditional beliefs about gender roles and sexual objectification. Female students also perceived sexual aggression as more important to address than male students, discussed it with peers more frequently, and defined it more negatively, emotionally, personally, and violently. Gender was found to moderate perceived importance to address sexual aggression, with unaffiliated male students perceiving it as least important and unaffiliated female students as most. All students, particularly female students, perceived sexual aggression to be underreported, and reporting students to face negative consequences as a result of reporting. Male students perceived over half of reports to be fallacious. Primary recommendations to reduce sexual aggression were educational approaches, more support for victimized students, and more consequences for perpetrators. Implications of study findings for prevention efforts are discussed.
Moss-Racusin, Lauren, "Sexual Aggression in Greek Life: Perceptions, Definitions, and Recommendations for Prevention" (2019). Doctoral Dissertations. 2229.