University students open up about their sexual harassment experiences

Students use Twitter by tagging #UnsafeAtUni to share their experience on being sexually harassed at university as a response to UUK’s report on tackling hate crime against women.

Universities UK published a report on Friday 21 October which looked at harassment and violence against women at universities. Instructed to be set up by the government, the report gives guidelines for establishments to improve the support for victims and further prevent cases on their campus.

Students show their support on the matter by sharing their personal incidents via Twitter.

Misogyny

Media reports claim that in recent years, misogynistic behaviour or ‘lad culture’ is common in universities which is an aspect that fuels sexual harassment against women.

Currently, there is no official statistics on how many incidents of sexual harassment occur at university. However, figures show that young people are more likely to be victims of a sexual crime; due to the ‘lad culture’ which is progressively getting worse.

Parents worry that their children will be a victim of hate crime and feel the need for them to be close at home as opposed to living on campus.

‘Zero-tolerance’

The main concern of this report is to prevent future incidents and for universities to take a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach and be more ‘hands on’ to any cases of sexual harassment.

This report calls for all universities to set clear expectations of behaviour by setting fine guidelines for all associates of the university to follow.

The National Union of Students urge universities to wholeheartedly take on board the UUK recommendations and implement all policies immediately.

The NUS women’s officer Hareem Ghani said: “We know sexual harassment and violence is prevalent on our campuses and women are disproportionally affected by this. No student should have to face this on their campus.”

Consent classes

Nicola Dandrige, chief executive of UUK, said: “The impact of any such incident on a student is so potentially serious that universities must be ready to respond effectively and proactively engage in prevention initiatives.”

The NUS have been tackling the issue of ‘university rape culture’ and as a result – ‘consent classes’ have been set up to highlight the grey areas of consent. It aims to fight against any form of sexual hate crime towards students.

Moving forward

UUK will survey progress in six months to see if there has been any real change after the publication of this report.

University Minister, Jo Johnson said: “Any form of harassment or abuse is unacceptable and must not be tolerated. This is why we asked UUK to undertake this important piece of work to see what more could be done to tackle and prevent harassment on campus.”

“We must now ensure that the work this task force has done goes on to make a real difference to students across the country. So I have asked UUK to survey progress in six months and make sure universities are doing all they can to protect the safety and security of their students.”

The tag #UnsafeAtUni was initiated by Laura Bates, the founder of Everyday Sexism as a response to the UUK report published to tackle sexual violence at universities.

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