The college social scene is the setting or context for much of the unwanted sexual contact that happens on campuses, as a new report by researchers at the University of New Hampshire, exploring the experiences of the universityâ€™s undergraduates, details.
For both female and male students, unwanted sexual contact occurs where they live, at social events, and often when the perpetrator and victim have been drinking. The vast majority of incidents occurs between UNH students, and an acquaintance is most often the perpetrator,â€ the report states.
Wait! You mean incidents of “unwanted sexual contact”–ranging from violence to profound misunderstanding–tend to happen among . . . people who are around one another a lot?Â When *both* people are drunk?
Who *ever* would have guessed such a thing?
At first I thought the report was just burying the lede, but no:
â€œI think the main point weâ€™re trying to make is that there are situations in which students find themselves, where they have these kinds of experiences, and theyâ€™re not situations that they would define as threatening situations,â€ said Sally Ward, a professor of sociology and one of five faculty authors of the report, which is based on paper- and Web-based surveys completed by 2,405 New Hampshire undergraduates, male and female, in 2005-6.
â€œItâ€™s part of the normal social scene. People go out and they party and things happen that they arenâ€™t expecting to happen. That is, we think, a consistent finding over time in this research,â€ said Ward.
So . . . when you’re drunk, sometimes events slip out of your control, especially in contexts where boundaries are ambiguous.Â Oh, mysterious universe!