Incoming Students

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The first 6 to 8 weeks at college can be the most exciting and challenging time for a first year student. There is a lot to know about sex, alcohol, consent, relationships and personal safety. Our services are here for you and your friends and family. To help, we have provided the most commonly asked questions about sexual assault, consent and safety, we get each year from incoming students like you.

Preparing for college for the first time can be a bit worrisome. Some of you may be concerned about safety and wonder what the reality is regarding sexual assault on campuses and what you can do to reduce their risk. Below we have included answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about sexual assault on campus. For the answers to frequently asked questions about the UNH PD, click here. If you have additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

Commonly Asked Questions About Sexual Assault at UNH

What exactly is considered sexual assault?

Sexual assault (rape) is any sexual act directed against another person, that is forcible and/or against that person’s will; or, where the victim is incapable of giving consent. Sexual assault as defined by NH RSA 632-A:1 is illegal. In addition, UNH has a clear policy regarding sexual misconduct between students.

Sexual assault violates both New Hampshire state law and the UNH Code of Conduct.

Understand the meaning of getting consent. To ensure that sexual encounters are consensual, communication before and during ANY sexual activity is a must! Consent is a verbal agreement that people share where they seek (ask) and receive (get an answer) expressed permission to engaged in sexual activity. Although it may be possible to seek and express permission without words (example: a head nod), consent is far clearer when done with words and when both parties are not under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs.

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Does SHARPP exist at UNH because a lot of rapes happen here?

No. SHARPP was created in the late 1980s in response to a rape on campus that received local and national attention. SHARPP was created to help provide adequate support services to survivors and as a means through which the University could be educated on the issues of sexual assault, consent, relationship abuse, stalking and sexual harassment.

Sexual assault at UNH is no more prevalent than at any other college campus. College aged women are at an increased risk of sexual assault. National statistics show that 1 in 5 women aged 18-25 will be victims of sexual assault and 1 in 10 men aged 18-25 will be victims of sexual assault.

On all college campuses, non-stranger rape is much more common than stranger rape. In fact, 85% of sexual assaults of women on college campuses are completed by someone the victim knows such as a dating partner, friend, or acquaintance. The trauma caused by a non-stranger rape is no less severe than a rape committed by a stranger. It is important to keep this in mind when you are discussing ways your student can be safe when they are on campus.

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How will I hear about SHARPP?

This fall SHARPP collaborates with Residential Life and other Student and Academic Services offices to provide educational programs about sexual assault, resources and consequences. Many of these programs are offered specifically for first year students.

We also offer a wide variety of educational programming in academic classrooms, Greek houses, residential halls and in the MUB. Our educational programming is designed specifically for UNH students to help them learn more about sexual assault, consent, healthy relationships, abusive relationships, stalking, the pivotal role of bystanders and ways to care for themselves and others. In addition, information about SHARPP is readily available at tables around campus, online and by word-of-mouth referrals by other students, UNH staff and faculty members.

During the academic year we run several awareness campaigns that educate the community about relationship abuse (October), stalking (January) and sexual assault (April). 

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How can I reach SHARPP?

SHARPP is committed to being available in a variety of ways. These include:

  • 24/7/365 support hotline, (603) 862-SAFE (7233) that is available even on holidays and during school breaks. 
  • The SHARPP office, located in Wolff House, directly in front of UNH Health Services is available for in-person support Monday through Friday, 8AM – 4:30PM, by walk-in or by appointment. The office phone number is 603-862-3494. Please note our office is closed during the week between Christmas and New Years, and also shuts down during curtailed operations.
  • Ask an Advocate is an email-based service through which the UNH community can send a message through our website and have their question answered by an advocate within 24 hours (during business hours, for instance, if an email is sent at 7pm on Friday, it will be answered on Monday morning).

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What should I know about date rape drugs?

Alcohol is the #1 date rape drug. Alcohol may make it difficult to clearly evaluate a potentially dangerous situation and to resist a sexual assault. Perpetrators of sexual violence know this and often use alcohol as a way to disable their targets.

If you choose to drink, know about drinking in low-risk ways...

  • Not drinking on an empty stomach
  • Alternating alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks
  • Never leaving drinks unattended
  • Never accepting drinks from someone they just met or don’t know
  • Making sure that they surround themselves with friends who will keep each other safe when they are out drinking

Learning more about alcohol at UNH

In addition to alcohol, however, students should be aware that date rape drugs are present on college campuses and in society in general. They can be colorless, odorless and tasteless. Signs that one might have been drugged include:

  • Feeling more intoxicated than usual when drinking the same amount 
  • Waking up feeling especially hung over and being unable to account for periods of time
  • Being able to remember taking a drink, but being unable to recall events after that.
  • Feeling as though you have had sex, but not being able to recall part or all of the incident.

If a person feels that they might have been drugged, it’s important to inform the police and medical staff as soon as possible. Blood and urine tests need to be conducted within 48 hours to determine if drugs were used.

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I don’t “party,” should I worry about “getting in to trouble.”

Although you may not have been into drinking or “partying” as a high school student, that may change in college. This is the first time you are living on you own and are able to make your own choices. Although not all college students drink, it is important to understand how to make low-risk choices, how to lookout for friends who may choose to drink, and about the UNH Student Rights, Rules and Responsibilities.

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Where can I take Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes?

The Rape Aggression Defense system is a national program of realistic self-defense tactics and techniques taught for women only. RAD classes are provided through the UNH Police Department. Times and dates vary depending on interest and officer availability. Although RAD classes offer great skills for women, remember that non-stranger rape is much more common than stranger rape. The physical skills taught in this class are important but should not take the place of seeking out healthy relationships that are based on the foundations of trust, empowerment, honesty and respect. 

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I was sexually assaulted in the past. Is there ongoing support for me on campus?

Yes. At SHARPP, we offer free and confidential support services for survivors of relationship abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and/or stalking. We can assist with past or current trauma by providing the following:

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Can my family or friends call the SHARPP office to receive support?

Yes. We offer support services to family memebers during our office hours as well as through our 24/7 support line. We can help explain resources and options, discuss ways to best support their student and give them a place to express their concerns. Because our services are confidential, without your consent, we cannot share information about you with them, including verifying if we are providing services to you. More information can be found here.

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This won’t happen me, should I still know about SHARPP?

While we certainly hope that you will not experience sexual assault, relationship abuse or stalking while a student at UNH, it’s impossible to predict who may need our services. While you may or may not be the target of an assault, you may need support or information about something that has happened to a friend roommate who has been sexually assaulted, sexually harassed, or experienced relationship abuse or stalking. It’s important that you are informed about SHARPP services and educated on sexual assault, relationship abuse and stalking so that you can reduce your own risk and also help support a friend if needed.

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I'm a guy, so there is nothing I need to worry about, correct?

While a majority of sexual assaults, relationship abuse, sexual harassment, and stalking incidents involve male perpetrators and female victims, we know that men can be victims too. SHARPP offers support services to all victims, regardless of gender.

Men can help end sexual violence by understanding consent and the consequences of not obtaining consent before engaging in sexual activity. Most men aren’t sexual perpetrators, however, young men need to have a solid understanding of consent and how it relates to alcohol use and/or other forms of incapacitation. 

Men can also get involved in ending violence at UNH. Sexual assault, relationship abuse, sexual harassment and stalking are not just women’s issues, they are community issues that you should be concerned about. We offer programs on being an active bystander that teaches both male and female students how to intervene effectively before, during and after a sexual assault. You can also choose to volunteer as a SHARPP advocate or community educator working to ending violence at UNH.  

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How can I get involved with SHARPP?

Student volunteers play a vital role at SHARPP. Student volunteers staff our 24 hour help line, respond to after-hours calls from police and emergency rooms and provide important information to their peers through education and outreach programming. All SHARPP volunteers serve as role models to the greater UNH community.

Currently, students can opt to volunteer as either a SHARPP peer advocate or as a SHARPP community educators.

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General Information About Safety at UNH

  • Blue Light Safety Phones
    There are Blue Light Safety phones located around campus. Each light is specifically placed to be in sight of another light. The phones automatically dial the UNH dispatch center. The Blue Safety Lights are available and active 365 days/year. The typical response time when a light is activated is less than two minutes.
  • UNH Police Department Escort Service
    If your student is on campus late and doesn’t feel safe walking alone, they can call the UNH Police Department’s escort service at (603) 862-1427 and have a police escort meet them where they are and walk with them to their on campus destination. We suggest that students program the escort service into their cell phones.
  • UNH Safe Rides
    Safe Rides is a program for UNH students who are off campus at a social gathering/event and need a sober ride home. Safe Rides is available Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 11 pm to 3 am, during the academic year when classes are in session.  

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A Checklist for understanding Sexual Assault with Your Student...

  • Explain to your student that consent is more than “no means no,” and that obtaining permission before engaging in any sexual activity is essential.
  • Learn more about sexual assault within a college setting. College campuses are highly social environments that provide rapists with a variety of opportunities to commit sexual assault. The majority of survivors knew the perpetrator at least casually prior to the assault. Just because students are in a college setting doesn’t mean that everyone is well intentioned and that they should let their guard down, especially with people they may barely know.
  • Discuss the relationship between alcohol use and one’s ability to make safe choices, or to help friends. While alcohol use doesn’t cause sexual assault, it can make someone more vulnerable to a sexual predator.
  • Plan ways to be safe in advance.  Making sure friends stay together, developing verbal or non-verbal signals to let your friends know you need help and frequent check ins are all ways to increase safety in social situations.
  • Strategize about things that your student can do to if s/he is faced with a potentially dangerous situation.
  • Talk about how to get help. Talking about programming 911 into one’s phone, learning how to engage potential allies in difficult situations and other strategies are examples of conversations you can have prior to arriving at UNH.
  • Emphasize that there is never an excuse for hurting or violating someone else, and include that rape is never the survivor’s fault, no matter what.
  • Encourage your student to become involved in preventing sexual and relationship abuse in campus. SHARPP has excellent volunteer opportunities for all students.

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