One in four female TCD students sexually assaulted – survey

SU welfare officer, Ian Mooney, is in talks to introduce compulsory sexual consent workshops for students.

trinity1news1One in four female students at Trinity College who responded to a students’ union survey has had a non-consensual sexual experience. The soon-to-be-released study, which surveyed 1,038 male and female students online between December 8th and 13th, found that 25% of women and 5% of men have been subjected to an unwanted sexual experience.

Just under a third (31%) of women who took part in the survey said they have experienced unwanted physical contact while studying at Trinity or in a Trinity social setting, compared with 8% for men. One in 13 respondents – 8% of women and 7% of men – reported having been stalked or subject to obsessive behaviour. 42% of female students and 8% of male students said that they had experienced verbal harassment, while one in 20 respondents said they have been physically mistreated by a partner.

The study also reveals a worrying lack of awareness about sexual consent campaigns, with  only 31% of women and 32% of men saying they had heard of any consent campaigns before.

In a statement to Trinity News last night, Ian Mooney, SU welfare officer, said the figures point to the need for student education on the issue of sexual consent. “Although phrases such as ‘non-consensual sexual experience’ may be somewhat ambiguous in meaning, the fact that such a large number of people feel that they have had one speaks volumes on an issue that’s not commonly discussed,” he said.

Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, today told Trinity News that said she was shocked by the figures. “They certainly seem to mirror what is happening in American universities,” she said.

Mandatory consent workshops

Trinity News understands that Mooney is now seeking to introduce mandatory sexual consent workshops for students. In an agenda sent around to class representatives on Sunday ahead of tonight’s SU council meeting, he reports having consulted Oxford and Cambridge representatives about their own compulsory workshops. “They’ve told me what’s been good and what’s been bad, the troubles they faced,” he says. “The ultimate goal here for the year would be to introduce something similar for Trinity and hopefully avoid the troubles that they faced.”

Mooney is also meeting officials from the Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC) and the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre to discuss the study’s findings and the possibility of collaborating on a sexual assault booklet or campaign.

First comprehensive Trinity study

His survey is the first ever comprehensive study of students’ experiences of sexual assault and harassment in Trinity College.

It follows a landmark study, “Say Something”, published by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) in September 2013, which found that 16% of students – and one in five women – in Irish third-level institutions have experienced some form of unwanted sexual experience, with only 3% of victims having reported it to gardaí. Most perpetrators of sexual assault were acquaintances of the victim. The USI survey, which polled 2,750 third-level students, also found that one in 10 female respondents and 5% of male respondents said they had been the victim of obsessive behaviour.

USI president, Laura Harmon, who was USI vice-president for equality and citizenship at the time of the release of its “Say Something” survey, last night told Trinity News that the Trinity figures were “broadly in line” with its own findings. She is said there is a need for Irish universities to improve its protocols when it comes to dealing with sexual assault. “There is no standardised policy for higher-education institutions,” she said. “There should be standard procedures for when students report incidents to staff.” Harmon added that it is an issue she is currently working with minister for education Jan O’Sullivan on.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can get in contact with Ian Mooney (, the Trinity student counselling service (01 8961407) or the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s 24-hour helpline (1800  778 888).

Update, 16:05, 20/01: In a statement, College said it is “committed to the implementation of its policy of Dignity and Respect and in providing an environment where every student and member of staff is treated with dignity and respect.” It said it is “taking  the findings of this survey very seriously and will work with the Students’ Union in addressing the problem which unfortunately   it would seem is an issue across Irish campuses as the USI survey shows. Specifically in relation to any student who has been the victim of a sexual assault or rape, it is College policy to encourage them to immediately report such incidents to the Gardai for investigation and it fully cooperates with the Gardaí when they are investigating any such incidents.”

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Catherine Healy

Editor at Trinity News
Editor of Trinity News. Interested in politics, history and all forms of media.
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  • PIV=Rape

    Will be interesting to see the study when released. Does anyone know how the sample was selected?

    • Knowing feminists as I do I would say they produce a loaded survey with questions such as, did you have sex when drunk?

      That person would be classed as a rape victim even if she was having a relationship with the guy at the time and continued having one after.

    • Pete

      I agree, we need to see what questions were asked specifically also. As with the US and UK statistics these are more than likely bogus, trying to extend the meaning of something as awful as ‘rape’ to unwanted sexual experience and all that that involves (from unwanted advances to drunken mistakes).
      A consent class is about as necessary as an anti-murder class. Everyone knows not to do it. The genuine crimes are committed by people who don’t care about whether or not it’s okay, and more often than not by repeat offenders.

  • cormacor

    I found this article a bit confusing. 31% seems very high indeed for “unwanted physical contact”, except that it’s not terribly clear what the term means; the same goes for “being subject to obsessive behaviour. Hopefully, these points will be clearer in the study itself. Another very confusing sentence is this:”The study also reveals a worrying lack of awareness about the issue of sexual consent, with only 31% of women and 32% of men saying they had heard of any consent campaigns before.” As stated here, the revealed a lack of awareness of consent campaigns, not a lack of awareness of the issue of consent.

  • Why is the army not on colleges protecting people.

    If it is as bad as what people say then I really do not know why people send their children to college.

    Unless it is a pile of feminist tripe where they are making themselves all out to be professional victims

    • Why is the Army not on college campuses protecting people?
      Why is the “proven rape-machine known as the military” not allowed on college campuses with all of the nubile, young boy and girl victims waiting to be overpowered by the soldiers?

      There, fixed that for you.

      • Go ahead ignore the obvious!

        The campus rape culture is a figment of the imagination of feminists

        • If only that were true. If only all of MRAs’ fanciful delusions were true.

          Alas, you spout off conspiracy theories worse than reptilian overlords. Get yourself some help, you are approaching a danger to your own well-being.


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