The first 6 to 8 weeks at college can be the most exciting and challenging for a first-year student. There is a lot to know about sex, alcohol, consent, relationships and personal safety. And there are important things to remember in regards to UNH’s Student Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities with respect to your protection and rights pertaining to sexual violence and harassment that are covered by federal law, including Title IX, a landmark federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in education. Our services are here for students and their families. To help, we have provided responses to the most commonly asked questions that we get each year from incoming students about interpersonal violence, consent, and safety.
If you have additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.
Commonly asked questions from incoming students like you
Sexual assault 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's Code of Conduct has a clear policy regarding sexual misconduct between students.
Sexual assault is a form of interpersonal violence (IPV). IPV also includes sexual harassment, stalking, and relationship abuse. SHARPP supports survivors of all forms of interpersonal violence.
To ensure that sexual encounters are consensual, communication before and during ANY sexual activity is a must! Consent is an agreement that involves seeking (asking) and receiving (getting an answer) expressed permission to engage in sexual activity or contact. Although it may be possible to seek and express permission without words (example: a head nod), body language can be easy to misinterpret. It's important to look for clear, enthusiastic consent.
No. SHARPP grew out of a grassroots movement in the 1980s in response to a sexual assault 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 community could be educated on the issues of interpersonal violence, healthy relationships, and rape culture.
Interpersonal violence is not more prevalent at UNH than on other college campuses. National statistics show that people ages 18-25 experience sexual violence at higher rates than any other age demographic.
On college campuses, as in other contexts, interpersonal violence is most often perpetrated by someone known to the survivor rather than by a stranger; for instance, romantic partners, friends, or acquaintances. The trauma caused by this kind of experience is no less severe than that of stranger-perpetrated violence.
Within the Student Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities Handbook, UNH specifies that sexual misconduct, unwanted sexual contact, harassment, stalking, and relationship abuse are violations of institutional policy.
The Code of Conduct also states that consent should be mutual, specific, informed, and ongoing. The presence of threats, force, manipulation, intimidation, and coercion (including using drugs or alcohol to incapacitate someone) is a violation of consent. Any sexual contact or penetration without consent is against the UNH Code of Conduct.
SHARPP collaborates with Residential Life and other Student Life offices to provide educational programs about interpersonal violence, survivor support, and campus resources. Many of these programs are offered specifically for first-year students.
We also offer a wide variety of educational programming in academic classrooms, Fraternity and Sorority Life chapters, residential halls, and the MUB. Our educational programming is designed specifically for UNH students to help them learn more about sexual violence, healthy & unhealthy relationships, stalking, rape culture, and the pivotal role of active bystanders. In addition, information about SHARPP is readily available visually around campus, online, and by word-of-mouth referrals from students, staff, and faculty.
During the academic year, we run several awareness campaigns that educate the community about relationship abuse (October), stalking (January) and sexual assault (April).
SHARPP is committed to being available in a variety of ways. These include:
- 24/7/365 support helpline that is available even on holidays and during school breaks at (603) 862–7233.
- Text with an advocate Monday-Friday 9am-4pm by texting (603) 606-9393.
- Chat online with an advocate Monday-Friday 9am-4pm.
- The SHARPP office (located in Wolff House, directly in front of UNH Health & Wellness) is open for in-person support Monday-Friday, 8AM-4:30PM, by drop-in or appointment. The office phone number is (603) 862-3494. Please note that our office is closed during the week between Christmas and New Years, and also shuts down during curtailed operations. During those times, our helpline remains staffed.
Alcohol does not cause sexual assault. Many people choose to drink and never perpetrate violence. Importantly, the majority of students who experience sexual violence in college say that alcohol or other drugs were involved.
Being under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs can increase the risk that you perpetrate harm or violence, cross a boundary, or violate consent. Alcohol can serve as both a weapon and a camouflage. It can be used to incapacitate and take advantage of someone, and as an excuse or cover for harmful, dangerous, or violent behavior.
Know the signs that someone is too intoxicated to consent to sexual activity:
- They are unaware of their surroundings
- They are unsteady on their feet, swaying or falling down, or need assistance to move from point A to point B
- Their speech is slurred
- They have trouble focusing or holding a conversation
- They lose control over their bodily functions (throwing up, urinating, etc.)
Even just one of these signals is enough to know. Be honest with yourself about other people's level of intoxication as well as your own, and look out for others who may be displaying these signs.
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 may 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 physically as though you have had sex, but not being able to recall part or all of the encounter
If a person is concerned that they may have been drugged, it is important to know that these substances are most likely to be detected by a blood or urine test within 24 hours of ingestion. After 24 hours, even if ingested, these substances may not yield results on a test. SHARPP can provide additional information and assistance on how to access this testing.
The Rape Aggression Defense system is a national program of realistic self-defense tactics and techniques taught for women only. SHARPP does not provide RAD classes, however they can be taken through the UNH Police Department. Although RAD classes offer great skills for women, remember that anyone can be impacted by violence, that interpersonal violence is never the fault of the victim/survivor, and that it is less often perpetrated by strangers than by people one already knows.
Yes. At SHARPP, we offer free and confidential support services for survivors of relationship abuse, sexual violence, harassment, and stalking, regardless of whether it occurred before or after enrollment at UNH. SHARPP provides a wide variety of services to survivors, including:
Yes. We offer support services to family members 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, we cannot verify that we are working with you or share information about you - even to parents - without your written consent.
While we certainly hope that you will not experience sexual assault, relationship violence, harassment, or stalking while you are 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, loved one, or partner. It’s important that you are informed about SHARPP's services and educational offerings so that you can support others and be a source of vital knowledge in your communities.
Anyone can be a survivor of violence, regardless of the identities they hold - including gender. SHARPP offers support services to all survivors, whether or not their experience occurred after being enrolled at UNH. Even if you wouldn't personally label an experience as assault or violence, SHARPP can offer support around unwanted sexual experiences, harmful interactions, and unhealthy relationship dynamics.
Just as identity does not determine survivorship, anyone can also be a perpetrator of violence. Men have an important role to play in ending violence at UNH; these are not just women's issues, they are community issues. SHARPP offers educational programming on consent, healthy relationships, rape culture, bystander intervention, harassment, and more. You can also get involved with anti-violence work by volunteering with SHARPP or attending SHARPP's events throughout the year.
Student volunteers play a vital role at SHARPP. They staff our 24-hour helpline, respond to after-hours calls from police and emergency rooms, and provide important information to their peers through education and outreach programming. SHARPP volunteers are leaders and changemakers in the UNH community.
SHARPP offers 2 volunteer tracks: Peer Advocates and Community Educators.
If volunteering doesn't sound like a good fit for you, consider attending some of the many events SHARPP hosts throughout the year, such as film screenings, rallies, direct action workshops, speakers, and book clubs. Another great way to engage with SHARPP is by following us on social media @unhsharpp.
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 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 you are on campus late and don't feel safe walking alone, you can call the UNH Police Department’s escort service at (603) 862-1427 and have a police escort meet you where you are and accompany you to an on-campus destination. We suggest that students program the escort service into their cell phones.
uSafeUS is a free and confidential app with easy-to-use tools to help students and their friends make a smooth exit from uncomfortable situations, get home safely, and find support in the aftermath of sexual assault, relationship violence, or stalking. Students and parents can download the app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
UNH "United to End" Website
UNH's "United to End" webpage outlines the university's commitment to violence prevention, reporting, training, and safety. You can find information about ongoing safety, support, and prevention initiatives and read the UNH Comprehensive Prevention Plan.