Identifier

etd-04022015-161420

Degree

Master of Mass Communication (MMC)

Department

Mass Communication

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Reports of sexual violence should be written from a public health perspective approach to appropriately frame the occurrence and encourage accurate understandings of sexual assault as a larger societal issue. This research consists of two studies to investigate the way universities do (and should) communicate about sexual violence with their students. For Study 1, interviews were conducted with a random sample of public state Universities regarding their emergency alert processes and template usage to determine current emergency communication practices. The majority of universities contacted do not have a template or best practice guidelines in place for creating timely warnings. For Study 2, an experimental test asked participants to read a hypothetical university timely warning message about a sexual assault on campus and take a post-test survey about their perceptions of sexual assault and personal estimation of threat. The experiment tested whether the inclusion of contextualizing statistics and information in the message changed their reported perceptions of rape overall. Results from the study show that a combination approach incorporating both statistics and personal safety strategies had the greatest influence on both threat perception and reported preventative behaviors. This research has significant public policy implications for best practices concerning institutional communication about sexual assault.

Date

2015

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mann, Christopher

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