Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Rosalind Chou

Second Advisor

Eric Wright

Third Advisor

Tiffany King


Attempts to quantify the occurrence of sexual violence on college campuses have yielded varied results. Some researchers place the number of women who experience campus sexual assault or rape (whether attempted or completed) at one in five while other research reports a much lower number at 6.1 per 1,000 female students (Krebs, Lindquist, Warner, Fisher and Martin 2007; Bureau of Justice Statistics 2014). Researchers also differ in their estimates of how often rape and sexual assault go unreported. According to the National Institute of Justice (2000), students do not report over 95% of completed or attempted rapes to police. Other estimates situate the amount of rape and sexual assault victimizations unreported to the police at 80% (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2014). Yet for all the research conducted on sexual violence in this context, scholars and researchers have done little in the way of considering race and its implications for this social problem.

This dissertation aims to address an apparent dearth in the literature with regard to the role of race in campus sexual violence. Rates and types of victimization have been shown to vary according to race (Moher-Kuo, Dowdall, Koss and Weschler 2004; Gross, Winslett, Roberts and Gohm 2006). The current research explores 12 women’s experiences with campus sexual assault, detailing how race impacted their victimization as well as colored subsequent processes of deciding to report and administrative actions taken if they chose to do so. Overall, Black women experienced more violent sexualization than White women over their lifetime that they felt contributed to their victimization. Additionally, while colleges and universities appear to be notoriously unsupportive of victims and survivors, Black women felt that their race produced added impediments in the process of receiving justice. Lastly, historical constructions of race, gender, sexuality and criminality impacted how the women and others perceived their assaults.