Date of Thesis

Spring 2023


Campus sexual assault (CSA) was likely on the rise in the United States (Koss et al., 2022) even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which there was a global increase in violence against women. The present study is a needed addition to the limited rigorous scientific studies on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on campus sexual assault (CSA). A mixed-methods, ecological, and critical feminist approach was used to investigate CSA during the mitigation period. The present study specifically utilized the Sexual Experiences Survey (Koss et al., 2007) to assess changes in frequency of victimization within two representative samples of the Bucknell University student body between winter 2018 and fall 2022, and semi-structured interviews with 18 former or current Bucknell University undergraduate students were used to gather exploratory qualitative data on student experiences of interpersonal violence (IPV) and/or recovery in fall 2020 and spring 2021. Quantitative analyses using chi-square tests of independence suggest that rates of sexual violence were not significantly different between the two samples even after controlling for class year, gender and/or Greek Life affiliation status. Themes of victimization attributed in some way to COVID-19, barriers to microsystem and exosystem level resources, and fraternity men’s disproportionate access to unsurveilled spaces emerged using a Grounded Theory, Ecological Systems Theory, and critical feminist approaches to qualitative analysis. Results suggest that anti-IPV education should be considered a critical element of University pandemic response in the future, and that pandemic mitigations may have exacerbated the effects of an already unequal power structure. Future research should investigate the experiences of students 2 who were first-years during fall of 2020, and the experiences of students of color, particularly Black, Latine, Indigenous, and Asian undergraduate women’s experiences of sexual violence during this period.


campus sexual assault, COVID-19 mitigations, violence against women, pandemic, sexual experiences survey, ARC3 Campus Climate Survey

Access Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Science



First Advisor

William Flack

Second Advisor

Erica Delsandro

Third Advisor

Sue Ellen Henry