Information for Families

families

Preparing your son or daughter for college for the first time can be a bit worrisome for parents. Some of you may be concerned about sexual assault and wonder what the reality is regarding sexual assault on campuses and what you and your student can do to reduce their risk. On this page 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.

Talk to your student about 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 4 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 my student hear about SHARPP?

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 my student reach SHARPP?

SHARPP is 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 tell my student 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 student chooses to drink, talk with them 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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My student doesn’t “party,” should I worry about him/her “getting in to trouble.”

Although your student may not have been into drinking or “partying” as a high school student, that may change in college. This is the first time students are living on their own and are able to make their own choices. Although not all college students drink, it is important to still talk to your student about alcohol, 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 my daughter 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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My daughter/son was raped. Is there ongoing support for him/her on campus?

Yes. At SHARPP, we offer free and confidential (under NH RSA-173:c) 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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If I suspect or know that something has happened to my student, can I call the SHARPP office to receive support?

Yes. We offer support services to parents that can be accessed 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 your student and give you a place to express your concerns. Because our services are confidential, without your son/daughter’s consent, we cannot share information about them with you, including verifying if we are providing services to him/her. More information can be found here.

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This won’t happen to my student, should I still know about SHARPP?

While we certainly hope that your child 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 your student may or may not be the target of an assault, your student 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 and your student are informed about SHARPP services and educated on the sexual assault, relationship abuse and stalking so that they can reduce their own risk and also help support their friend(s) if needed.

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I have a son, 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 your son should be concerned about. UNH is nationally known for Bringing in the Bystander, a program that teaches both male and female students how to intervene effectively before, during and after a sexual assault. Your son can also choose to volunteer as a SHARPP advocate or community educator working to ending violence at UNH.  

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How can students 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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Can you give us 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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