1st Edition

Campus Sexual Violence A State of Institutionalized Sexual Terrorism

By Sarah Prior, Brooke de Heer Copyright 2023
    180 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    180 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Campus Sexual Violence: A State of Institutionalized Sexual Terrorism conceptualizes sexual violence on college campuses as a form of sexual terrorism, arguing that institutional compliance and inaction within the neoliberal university perpetuate a system of sexual terrorism.

    Using a sexual terrorism framework, the authors examine a myriad of examples of campus sexual violence with an intersectional lens and explore the role of the institution and the influence of neoliberalism in undermining sexual violence prevention efforts. The book utilizes Carole Sheffield’s five components of sexual terrorism (ideology, propaganda, amorality, perceptions of the perpetrator, and voluntary compliance) to describe how the "ivory tower stereotype" and adoption of neoliberal values into education contribute to an environment where victimization is painfully common. Cases such as those from Michigan State University and Baylor University are used as examples to highlight institutional culpability and neoliberal value systems within higher education, as well as illustrating the pervasiveness of rape culture that contributes to a system of sexual terrorism. Crucially, the book focuses on systems of inequality and oppression, and uses an intersectional perspective that recognizes victimization experienced by multiple marginalized groups including women, LGBTQ+, and racially minoritized people.

    Building on campus violence research and institutional harm research, the authors define campus sexual violence as a serious social problem based in structural inequality and advocate for civic responsibility at the institutional level and the development of institutional advocates. Weaving together theoretical and practical perspectives, the book will be of great interest to students and scholars of sociology, criminal justice, women’s and gender studies, social/political policy, victimology, and education. It will also be of use to those working in higher education administration and other student life and student health professions.


    Chapter 1: Scope of the Issue

    Chapter 2: Sexual Terrorism 

    Chapter 3: Neoliberalism and Institutional Betrayal

    Chapter 4: Ideology and Propaganda

    Chapter 5: Amorality, Voluntary Socialized Compliance, and Perceptions of the Perpetrator

    Chapter 6: Moving Forward


    Sarah Prior is an Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department at Michigan State University. She teaches courses on sexual violence, sex, gender and sexuality, social inequality, and youth studies. Her research agenda focuses on gendered violence, specifically addressing issues surrounding campus sexual violence. Her work seeks to center marginalized experiences and challenge structural apparatuses. Her work has appeared in such outlets as Sociology Compass, Violence against Women, and The Journal of Interpersonal Violence as well as edited volumes including The Moral Panics of Sexuality, Investigating Difference: Human and Cultural Relations in Criminal Justice, and Intersectionality in Education Research.

    Brooke A. de Heer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northern Arizona University. She teaches courses on gendered violence, contemporary issues and the criminal justice system, American courts, and crime and justice. Her research agenda focuses on issues of gender and power in sexual violence, with an emphasis on health disparities and inequitable treatment of marginalized victims involved in the criminal justice (CJ) system. Her work seeks to investigate and validate marginalized peoples’ experiences with sexual violence and work to dismantle systems of oppression that create disparate health outcomes for minoritized populations. She has been published in Feminist Criminology, Violence Against Women, Sociology Compass, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Violence and Victims, Journal of school Violence, and American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research.

    "In this book, Sarah Prior and Brooke de Heer shine a much-needed spotlight on the role of institutions of higher education in creating, maintaining, and perpetuating harm associated with sexual violence. By adopting an institutional lens, they invite all of us to consider how our strategies must engage with the institutional forces shaping modern American universities if we hope to meaningfully prevent sexual violence on campus. This book is truly a must-read for anyone who cares about ending campus sexual assault!"

    - Carrie Moylan, Associate Professor, Michigan State University

    "Campus Sexual Violence: A State of Institutionalized Sexual Terrorism is a must-read for anyone concerned about the insidious prevalence of sexual violence— and rape culture altogether— on our university campuses. This insightful, timely book is a significant contribution to the existing literature. Drawing upon the important concepts of sexual terrorism and intersectionality, Prior and De Heer provide a crucial challenge to all institutions of higher learning— it is time for them to acknowledge the effects of their increasing corporatization on survivors of sexual violence and to instead become sites of greater civic responsibility, reform, and social justice. Campus Sexual Violence promises to have relevance across a wide variety of academic fields and disciplines. And, I believe that it will also have far-reaching impacts outside of the academy in the years to come."

    - Laura Gray-Rosendale, Professor, Northern Arizona University