Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was an undergraduate student; now I am a graduate student for the second time. Recalling my college years, interpersonal violence (IPV) was far more visible and common than it appears to be among my fellow graduate students. It is possible that the rate of IPV is actually lower among older students such as myself? Or is it just less visible?
Given the heavy load of academic and professional expectations for graduate students, the effects and implications associated with IPV-related incidents likely differ from those associated with being an undergraduate student. Graduate students are more likely to be partnered, married, and/or have children, and a large portion are international students. So what does IPV look like during graduate school at UNC Chapel Hill?
Graduate (and professional) students represent over a third of the UNC-CH student body, yet few university services and resources specifically target this population. It would not be surprising if graduate students were less likely to be aware of the services and resources that are available for them on-campus. Neither would it be surprising to hear that very few graduate students access and utilize these services and resources. I asked the Graduate and Professional Student Federation (GPSF) if they could share any data regarding awareness, access, and utilization of university services and resources, but current leaders are not aware of any survey where the university has asked graduate students these questions.
In terms of IPV prevention and response, we have programs that target undergraduate students such as the online module by EverFi that incoming students are required to complete, One Act (prevention), and HAVEN (response). As part of the activities supported by the Office on Violence Against Women Campus Grant, Student Wellness is collaborating with GPSF to learn more about the graduate student experience and the types of services and resources that are most needed and least utilized. We are particularly interested in reaching out to graduate students to learn more about their experiences with IPV in their many roles as students, teaching assistants, family, and friends. Based on this information, we hope to develop training programs and campaigns to fit the needs of this population. In the meantime, here is a list of services and resources that may be of interest to graduate students:
- To talk to someone confidentially about IPV-related issues, or any other problems, you could contact Counseling & Psychological Services, Campus Health Services, and the University Ombuds Office.
- IPV incidents’ reporting options include the Department of Public Safety, Student Complaint Coordinator/Deputy Title IX Officer, and the Office of the Dean of Students.
- Confidential options off-campus include the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and the Compass Center for Women and Families, among others.
- A comprehensive list of resources and more information on IPV awareness, prevention, and response can be found at http://safe.unc.edu.
Stay tuned for future updates on this topic, and if you are a graduate student who would like to help with this project please contact Kei Alegria-Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org.