On your way around campus, you may have noticed pavement graffiti carrying uncomfortable statistics. The messages, like ‘4 out of 5 Trans students feel unsafe on UK campuses,’ are taken from the Universities UK (UUK) Changing the Culture report which set out the need to challenge the behaviours that underpin sexual harassment, violence and hate crimes.
Those of you who are returners this year will have probably already heard of the Never Ok campaign – a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment uea(su) have been running since 2014. ‘Never Ok’ has achieved increased awareness of sexual harassment on campus and in Norwich and has led to more students feeling comfortable enough to report incidents. We’ve also provided training to all full-time SU staff members, the majority of student staff in our outlets and staff at Mantra. The Good Night Out scheme, an independent initiative oriented towards the same goals of ending harassment has also certified 7 city venues: Frank's bar, Norwich Arts Centre, Open, The Blueberry, The Playhouse Bar, The Waterfront and the LCR.
The uea(su) Never Ok campaign was recognised nationally by the NUS and has made great progress over the years. However, we’d like to see a time where nobody experiences sexual harassment, and the UUK report shows that there’s some way to go before that happens on a national level.
We are really pleased that UEA has taken the lead from the SU and are now working with us to roll out Never Ok across the whole University, expanding it to include violence and hate crime against anyone. All students are being encouraged to take online ‘Consent Matters’ training on Blackboard and are being given Never Ok business cards that set out behaviour expectations and give pointers for help, advice and support. Referral links with local partners such as Leeway, the Harbour Centre and Norfolk Police have also been strengthened.
It’s great that UEA is embracing the Never Ok campaign, which we are so passionate about. By working together, everyone on campus can understand that they have the right to feel safe and have the confidence to challenge or report sexual harassment if they see it.
We hope you’re never in a position that requires it, but if you ever experience or see sexual harassment you can always speak to any member of staff right away, because sexual harassment is never ok.