subscribe: Posts | Comments

Clear mandate on sexual violence at uni needed


StandByMe consultation, short manifesto, sexual violence at universitiesNUS Women’s Campaign has published the results of the #StandByMe consultation.

In March this year the UUK taskforce on violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students agreed to review the Zellick guidelines.

The rejection of the Zellick guidelines by the higher education sector and the creation of new recommendations on how to tackle sexual violence in higher education, including robust reporting and disciplinary guidelines and survivor support, is something that the NUS Women’s Campaign and Rape Crisis UK has been campaigning for through the #StandByMe campaign.

However, the groups believe that the development of national guidelines to tackle sexual violence on campus should have the voices of students at its centre.

That is why the #StandByMe consultation was launched in April 2016 to collect Students’ Unions views on what should be in place to support students who have been affected by sexual assault and sexual violence.

The results of the consultation were published recently.

They look at what a holistic approach to tackling sexual violence should look like – ranging from what types of policy need to be in place to what good reporting and disciplinary procedures should look like.

Common issues that were highlighted included the following:

Survivors need to be treated with dignity and respect when they disclose. Staff need to have training in order to respond appropriately to disclosures.

Institutions and students’ unions should have joint zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment and assault. They should also have student and staff codes of conduct that outline how sexual assault is a breach of those codes of conduct.

Reasonable adjustments for survivors should be in place. Many respondents highlighted for example how survivors should be given extensions for assessed work/time off to complete their studies if needed.

Survivors need to have access to support services, to prevent them from dropping out and to ensure their wellbeing.

The results of consultation have also been combined into a short manifesto outlining the recommendations made to the UUK Taskforce.

These recommendations are based around how to improve support for student survivors and for students’ unions to use as guidance to ensure better support for their students.

The NUS Women’s Campaign and Rape Crisis UK said that they understand that, amongst other actions, the taskforce aims to develop a set of principles and practical recommendations that universities and students’ unions can adapt and implement to suit their own context.

They believe, however, that if there is no clear mandate through legislation to ensure that these measures are enforced, there will be no consistency across the sector in the way that sexual violence is tackled or in how survivors are supported.

Providing support for student survivors should not be optional.

No student who experiences sexual violence should be subjected to a post-code lottery in terms of how they can report what happened and how they will be supported by their institution.

For effective change, the leaders of our education sector need to accept the challenge and commit to being both proactive and accountable for setting standards across the sector to address sexual violence.

That is why, in addition to the manifesto recommendations, the NUS Women’s Campaign and Rape Crisis UK are campaigning to make it a legal duty for higher education institutions to address sexual violence on campus.

They are also asking the taskforce to recommend that any data collected in higher education institutions on incidents of sexual violence should be centrally collated and published.

In November 2015, Universities UK established a taskforce to address violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting students.

The taskforce aims to develop principles, guidance and recommendations for the sector and will report its findings for the start of the 2016–17 academic year.

A one-day conference in London, ‘Tackling violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students’, being held on 3 November 2016 is to be an opportunity for delegates to share examples of best practice and for the taskforce to gather further evidence and insights from the sector on how best to address these issues.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *