“I get cat-called by male students every time I walk alone on campus at night.”
According to the 2014 climate change survey conducted by the Keene State College Department of Institutional Research, 25 percent of female Keene State College students reported that they have had a personal experience that has made them feel unsafe or disrespected on or around campus.
The survey was conducted by Director of Institutional Research and Assessment Cathy Turrentine and focuses on how students felt on campus in 2014 compared to 2011.
These specific survey results focused on women, LGBT and people of color.
According to Turrentine, approximately 1,100 students participated in the survey. She said the number was “acceptable” but that she would like to see more students involved.
Her statistics showed that many women on campus experienced cat-calling and slut-shaming.
Students were allowed to comment on the survey and Turrentine added some of the comments in her survey presentation.
One student said she “got cat called by male students on Winchester St. in the middle of the day.” Another said she “has never walked into a fraternity party and not worried for [her] safety.”
A female student commented that slut-shaming “is a huge problem on campus.”
Other comments included personal incidents of physical and sexual assault on campus.
In a specific case, a female student commented that during an attempted physical assault, she said “No Zebras” and her attacker left her alone.
“I love and hate this story,” Turrentine said about the incident. She said it makes her sad that events like this happen on campus.
“I love that we have a production to help students,” Turrentine said, referring to the No Zebra’s production shown during first-year orientation.
Turrentine said the biggest difference in 2014 compared to the 2011 survey was the increase of the treatment women were experiencing.
Not only did the 2014 survey focus on women’s experiences on campus, but results showed that some KSC females do not feel safe in the city of Keene as well.
One of the comments made by a female student stated that she is “creeped out by the men in Keene.” Others said they have been followed home by men in town.
“Being female is always a scary thing in Keene,” a female wrote in the survey. Several comments said females do not feel safe walking alone in town.
“I now make a male friend walk home with me after dark,” one student said.
“Now I carry pepper spray,” another said.
The survey also compared LGBT students’ experiences to those of straight students.
Statistics showed that 87 percent of LGBT students felt welcomed at KSC in 2014 compared to 94 percent in 2011.
In 2011, 83 percent of LGBT students that participated in the survey said they felt like they belong at KSC.
That number fell to 71 percent in 2014, according to Turrentine’s research. Research also showed that 67 percent of LGBT students in 2014 felt that KSC clearly communicated that all members of the college community are valued.
That statistic fell by 11 percent since 2011.
Turrentine’s research also showed that 42 percent of LGBT students who participated in the survey in 2014 reported they have had a personal experience in which they felt unwelcome or unfairly treated or disrespected, or unsafe in the past three years, compared to 21 percent of straight students.
LGBT students were also offered the option to leave comments on the survey of personal experiences they have faced.
One student said they felt “very welcome at orientation” after finding out that KSC offers clubs for the LGBT community.
One student said they didn’t have a LGBT community in high school “so joining [at KSC] has made [he/she] feel less alone.”
Other LGBT students said they have had negative experiences on campus.
“Just walking on campus and hearing homophobic slurs or jokes makes me feel incredibly unsafe,” one comment read.
Another student said “someone yelled something homophobic” at them multiple times on campus.
More students shared their personal experiences of harassment on campus.
Another focus of the survey was how students of color felt on campus. Turrentine’s research classified Hispanic and African American students, as well as other ethnicities as “students of color.”
The statistics regarding students of color was more positive than those of LGBT and female students, compared to 2011.
In 2014, 83 percent of non-white students said they felt like they belong on campus, compared to 72 percent in 2011.
Eighty-three percent of both white and non-white students reported that they felt they were treated respectfully by students on campus.
The amount of students of color that felt they were treated respectfully by faculty on campus jumped 12 percent since 2011.
Many students of color reported that they felt welcomed by Common Ground and the Diversity and Multiculturalism Office on campus.
Turrentine said this aspect of the survey was “a wonderful improvement.”
The purpose of these surveys is to “assess where the college stands on ensuring that all members of the community feel welcome, supported and safe,” according to Turrentine.
So what’s next?
Students and faculty who attended the event discussed what should be done to help raise the 2014 statistics.
KSC sophomore Antonio Rivera is the Vice President for Common Ground. At the presentation, he suggested incorporating more diversity into the No Zebras production.
“Policing isn’t always so effective…maybe we could do a separate show about diversity during orientation,” Rivera said.
Students at the presentation agreed that alcohol consumption may be a contributing factor to sexual harassment on campus. One student recommended more alcohol awareness on campus.
KSC student Amie Gagnon also attended the presentation. She said that implementing more women and gender studies classes on campus would be a good way to prevent the harassment of women on campus.
Gagnon suggested men be required to take a women and gender studies class.
“The mandatory class would show the point of view of how [women] are being affected,” she said. “People will be resistant, but it’s just like an ITW or IQL class,” she said.
Turrentine said she would like to work closely with students and faculty to make KSC a better place for everyone. She said she hopes students don’t see these surveys as negative, but as a way to better KSC as a whole.
“Most students experience the campus climate as positive, and that is to be celebrated,” she said.
Correction: The words colored studenets have been replaced with students of color. The Equinox apologizes for the insensitivity of the words “colored students” used in place of “students of color.” The editorial board will receive training in hopes to avoid instances such as this in the future. 2/7/2016
MacKenzie can be contacted at email@example.com