Background: Sexual misconduct on university campuses is rampant and underreported,
particularly among graduate and professional students. To combat this, the entire university community,
especially campus clinicians, must be trauma-informed, allowing for reduction of stigma, an increase
in reporting rates, and an acceptance that trauma will be treated within the academic theater.
Yet, this environment is rare. Despite the laws passed, procedures enacted, and resources allocated,
many victims are still met with a university response that creates further trauma, ultimately discouraging
disclosures. The probability that a student will report is dependent on diverse factors at the institutional
level. Compounding this further is the complexity of graduate and professional students
themselves. These individuals regularly navigate numerous, sometimes simultaneous roles within the
university structure (e.g., student, staff, faculty, and employee), engaging in relationships with clear
power imbalances. Moreover, factors like age, cultural and ethnic background, need for recommendations,
desire for future employment, developmental experiences, and personal distal/proximal relationships
also contribute to their inherent vulnerability.
Objective: The authors of this paper have gathered and reviewed published information on graduate
and professional students who are victims of sexual misconduct while in the academic environment
and discuss systemic and individual strategies to ameliorate the impact.
Conclusion: Gaps in the literature include current, large-scale studies on the prevalence of sexual
misconduct among graduate and professional students, universal protocols for preventive and treatment
strategies, the framing of education as a climate-shifting opportunity for empowerment, and a
holistic model that addresses the needs of the entire academic universe.