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Faculty and staff at the McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention (MCVP) engage in research about sexual violence among college students, convening multidisciplinary research teams of students, staff, and faculty. The Center's research projects specifically focus on investigating issues that will help administrators, student groups, and other partners understand peer culture on college campuses, the people who cause harm, harmful behaviors, and how to stop sexual violence. Research conducted through the MCVP is rooted in power-conscious frameworks and critical methods, with the aim of transforming research to practice and policy. Across all projects and teams, the MCVP has a commitment to including practitioners throughout the research process.

Meet our Research Affiliates!

MCVP Research Projects


 

Completed Projects


 

On (Not) Speaking the same language: Understanding how college students describe intimate partner violence (completed)


Understanding how college students talk about sexual violence is a must to ensure that campus educational materials, processes and policies are written and communicated in shared language. In this study, researchers examined the language students use to describe their experiences with sexual violence and perceptions of campus safety versus the language used in university materials. Researchers found that students tend to describe experiences through behaviors (i.e., manipulation, control) rather than terminology encompassing those behaviors (i.e., domestic violence). Students also don’t regard “campus safety” measures as connected to their own relationship experiences. The team concludes that this disconnect of terminology and understanding has far-reaching implications for research and prevention measures. Understanding how students perceive, talk about, experience, and counsel one another around issues of intimate partner violence/dating and sexual violence will inform more effective efforts to make college campuses (and our larger community) safer.

The principal investigators for this project were: Chris Linder, associate professor, Educational Leadership & Policy, College of Education; Jessie Richards, assistant professor, Management, Eccles College of Business; Heather Melton, associate professor, Sociology, College of Social and Behavioral Science; Adrienne Griffiths, doctoral graduate ‘22, Sociology; Hannah Lund, BS’22 Sociology and Criminology; Charnell Peters, assistant professor, Department of Communication, Saint Louis University.

Read the full report at this link.

 

Projects in Progress


 

Exploring the Impact of Clery Act Timely Warnings on Student Experiences, Perceptions, and Behavior


The Clery Act of 1990 and its subsequent iterations require campuses to issue timely warnings when immediate safety concerns are present and to issue annual reports of crime data to the campus community. Even though many students read timely warning alerts (Adams-Clark et al., 2020) and the stated purpose of sharing information is to help members of the community make informed decisions about their personal safety (Clery Center, n.d.), rates of violence have not declined on college campuses since the implementation of the Act (Muehlenhard et al., 2017). The purpose of this research study is to better understand college students’ responses to Clery timely warnings, specifically related to sexual violence. The results of this study will inform current practices of University of Utah administrators related to implementing Clery warnings and will provide a structure for research on other campuses about timely warnings.

Survivor Perceptions of Accountability, Justice, and Healing


The purpose of this study is to understand how college student survivors of color envision justice, healing, accountability, and fairness in the context of sexual violence. Higher education’s current emphasis and reliance on Title IX compliance is not meeting the needs of survivors (especially minoritized survivors) and is perpetuating carceral logics that individualize harm and protect institutions (Shepp et al., 2023). Moreover, research has illustrated that Title IX processes often harm survivors (Lorenz et al., 2022; Webermann, 2021). Hence, this study centers the wisdom of student survivors of color to address the critical yet understudied area of justice, healing, accountability, and fairness in relation to sexual violence.

 

Understanding Respondent Experiences in Sexual Misconduct Cases


The purpose of this study is to better understand how respondents experience conduct processes related to sexual misconduct. Existing research highlights the harm and dissatisfaction that student survivors experience with campus sexual misconduct processes (Lorenz et al., 2022). Further, scholars have drawn parallels from Title IX processes to the harmful carceral criminal punishment system (Anderson Wadley & Hurtado, 2023; Collins, 2016). Consequently, the goal of this research is to inform practice and policy change to be able to promote more effective education and transformation through engagement in Title IX processes. For more information about this study, visit: http://respondentexperiences.wordpress.com

Exploring College Students’ Learning about Dating and Sexual Relationships


Despite the increased prevention education that institutions of higher education have provided in the last decade due to mandates from federal legislation such as the Campus SaVE Act (Dunn, 2014), the rates of sexual violence among college students have not shifted (Cantor et al., 2020). As such, understanding what and how college students learn about issues of sexual and relationship violence is essential for effective prevention education. The purpose of this study is to gain insight into what information students receive about dating and sexual relationships prior to and during college and how and where they get this information. Through this project, the researchers aim to inform prevention efforts and education about sexual violence, healthy relationships, consent, and interrupting harm.