64 per cent of female UCD students admit being sexually harassed

UCD is the first Irish university to take part in a larger international study on sexual harassment.

64 per cent of females and 10 percent of males said they have been street harassed.

110 students were surveyed by the Dublin branch of Hollaback!, an organisation which aims to end street harassment.

88 students were female, 19 were male and three identified as non-binary.

Co-founder Jenny Dunne said that though the sample size was too small to be conclusive, the survey it was a precursor to Hollaback!’s partnership with Cornell University, an Ivy League college in the US.

“It was just people who were interested in taking part. This UCD one is kind of a preliminary one.

“The full survey at Cornell should give us a much bigger picture of all the demographics.”

Former Trinity student Dearbhla Quinn began writing about the issue for stopstreetharrassment.org after moving to Brussels for an internship.

Quinn’s recalls the daily incidents of street harassment:

“Twice I had this white Ford transit van just drive slowly alongside me with the driver staring at me for the entire walk…It was just very intimidating.

“But I suppose I was angry as well as intimidated.”

Similarly, Belgian student Sofie Peeters made Femme de la Rue in 2012 which secretly documented the comments made to her on the streets of Brussels.

Quinn said that moving back to Dublin this year was a “return to normalcy.”

However, like Dunne, she thinks the issue isn’t discussed enough beyond like-minded organisations:

“There isn’t the same level of seriousness taken.”

“People think you should take it as a compliment or they just don’t consider it to be on a spectrum of sexual abuse.”

DCUSU welfare officer Eve Kerton plans on bringing this discussion to campus:

“We will be holding workshops in second semester on combatting harassment and I am researching self-defense classes as part of our safety days.”

Dunne hopes that more universities will partner with Hollaback! In the future and discuss the issue of content: “I think it would be great if general orientation sessions also included consent and sexual violence.”

The survey was taken in the form of a questionnaire at UCD’s Mind, Body & Soul Festival to promote mental health.

Aura McMenamin

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