Prof David Richardson, UEA Vice-Chancellor and India Edwards, UEA Students’ Union.
Back in October 2016 I wrote that “it is vital that universities confront the daily experience of sexual harassment and violence that far too many students, especially women, face. Those words, written in a joint blog with Jo Swo, (then the Students’ Union sabbatical officer for welfare) was a response to the Universities UK taskforce report on violence against women, harassment and hate crime.
Writing again some 15 months later, those sentiments have only become ever more relevant to all of us. Sexual harassment and assault has figured prominently in public life with the rise of the #metoo social movement in response to sexual harassment, the high profile allegations and resignations of UK government ministers, to, most recently, the repellent disgrace that was the Presidents’ Club.
So, what is our response? Since the Universities UK report was published the University has been working closely with the Students’ Union and partner agencies to deliver a number of initiatives on sexual assault , harassment and hate.
This blog is co-authored with India Edwards, Students’ Union sabbatical officer for Welfare, Community and Diversity, because it is only by working together that we can have a real impact on significant issues that affects life on campus for our students and staff, and across the wider community.
The UEA Student’s Union Never OK campaign has become a joint campaign with the University and sets out a culture of zero-tolerance for sexual assault, harassment, violence, or hate. But there are a number of other important changes also being implemented:
· A new anonymised reporting system for sexual assault, harassment, violence or hate incidents
· Consent Matters training (available via Blackboard)
· Awareness training around relationship abuse (provided by Leeway charity)
· Bystander training to help people recognise and de-esculate potential incidents
On February 8th between 10am and 3pm there will be information stands in Union House ranging from our own Student Support Services, the Harbour Centre, Leeway, Victim Support, UEA security, the SU Safer Taxis and Good Night Out schemes, Nightline and Norfolk Police.
At 12:30 on the Thursday 8 February, there will also be a panel debate in Union House, LCR, on the topic of “When is banter no longer funny? Please come along. If you want to submit a question in advance tweet @UEAStudents using the hashtag #neverokUEA