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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Heidi Gottfried


Sexual Assault Education Organizations on Campus: The Role of Peers

Sexual assault is prevalent on college campuses. One effort to address these crimes is through the creation of peer sexual assault education organizations, a form which has not received adequate attention by scholars. This research provides an in-depth case study of two peer sexual assault education organizations at two public, four-year universities, in the state of Michigan. The study examines the driving forces behind the origin of peer sexual assault education organizations on college campuses and the processes and mechanisms that enabled such a group to thrive and to take shape. In-depth interviews were conducted with individuals who perform three different roles for the peer organizations. Results revealed that the two organizations encompass differences in form, leadership, structure, and member responsibility. Political activism and a receptive administration both supported the inception of one organization, while a single individual committed to the issue contributed to the establishment of the second organization. One organization is more independent and has a flatter organizational structure, and the other is embedded within the institution and has a more hierarchal, bureaucratic structure. The findings provide evidence that a peer sexual assault education organization can be created on different types of campuses, with different histories and institutional features.

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