CW: sexual harassment, sexual assault
4-10 February 2019 is UK Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness week #itsnotok.
Every day this week we are sharing testimony from students all across the UK about the reality of the sexual assault and harassment they experience at university.
Every story and statistic shared this week comes from the national consultation conducted by Revolt Sexual Assault and The Student Room, where 4,500 students and recent graduates from 153 different institutions shared their experiences. For more insights into this consultation, see our Research.
Thinking about sharing your own story? Connect with us here.
Just 7% of students know a lot about their university’s sexual violence policy.
Notwithstanding acute inconsistency in levels of support and appropriate policy framework made accessible to students, there are individuals at universities across the country going above and beyond to try and make a positive difference to their students’ welfare and education.
Here, students share some of the things their university communities are doing well on the issue of sexual assault and harassment:
This feedback highlights just how many opportunities there are for all stakeholders within university communities to contribute to furthering the elimination of sexual violence in higher education. There is much work to do, but such scope for everyone to play an important role.
“My university has a way of reporting problems openly or anonymously – I believe this is really good as I know some people find the idea of reporting intimidating”
“The idea of ‘bystander’ training”
“The student paper ran stories allowing victims to share their stories. They shed light on ‘initiations’ which were supposed to be banned”
“I know that the uni cares a lot about the safety, including sexual safety, of its students, but I couldn’t specifically name things they have done to raise awareness (although I’m sure there are things)”
“We have multiple schemes set up to provide consent workshops and bystander intervention training “
“My university established a special committee to revise the way sexual assault is treated”
“Awareness campaigns have started such as ‘know the line’”
“A local bar started the Ask Angela policy”
“My university put this survey on the front page of their intranet which is important in promoting the issue – it also promotes and supports Reclaim the Night”
“They do have a consent programme running for all first years at the beginning of the year, so at least they are starting to talk about it”
“Following counts of sexual assault there has been a safety drive around campus”
“There are posters around university and sometimes informative events”
“There are help zones and street angels to safety walks as well as reclaim the night events”
“They have upgraded security on campus”
“My university offers counselling”
“There was the #NeverOK campaign which was good”
“We had local charities visit and share knowledge”
“There are a number of student societies running good campaigns such as Got Consent”
“Although I wouldn’t know who to speak to, my university is friendly and I could speak to someone in confidence who would put me in contact with the relevant person or department”
“My university circulated this survey for one thing”
“There is a sense that the university will give you support, especially mental health support”
“I was told about safe spots and buttons for help around uni as a first year which is really good I think”
“They have made consent a key talking point”
“We have approachable, good links with the police”
“With compulsory talks to Freshers, they create the space to discuss the issue amongst peers and provide necessary information on where and how to seek help”
“My university has stressed the importance of (enthusiastic, verbal, and sustained) consent”
“The university has supported societies and students who are passionate about rights and inclusivity who are involved in these issues”
“There are posters around uni helping and encouraging students to report any kind of harassment”
“Raising visibility of their attitudes toward victims and how they will support them is great”
“The Good Lad programme educated our sports team on consent”
“Not the university, but the union have introduced Consent talks as part of Freshers’ Week”
“We have a ‘people’s welfare’ team and we can go and discuss everything personal with them, including sexual violence”
“We receive emails to warn us about recent incidents local to the university”
“Meeting at the beginning of the year, with screening of the Consent is key video (where having sex is compared to having a cup of tea)”
“We have support groups addressing and discussing issues like sexual assault and harassment”
“They have put up some posters that define consent”
“I know the union is campaigning on it”
“We were given rape alarms at Freshers”
“There are posters and leaflets about where to seek help and that if someone is drunk/unconscious they can’t consent and that wearing certain clothes does not mean you can touch someone”
“The SU has just agreed to look at employing someone to specifically deal with sexual complaints”
“The Women’s Officer launched a campaign on consent”
“When we began our degree here there were sessions held during our Freshers week about sexual consent and sexual harassment and the importance of standing up for our fellow peers and watching out for them on nights out or when they are in vulnerable positions. There are also posters around university reminding us this”
“Reclaim the Night is a great night of resilience and unity”
“I think they always take seriously every claim/report and investigate it properly. sexual assault and harassment are not tolerated here. I think we as a community, both students and staff, are supportive of each other and help each other when needed”
“We have a bystander team at campus events”
“The Union recently implemented a Sexual Harassment Charter (introduced by the Women’s Officer) which makes the definition of harassment/assault clearer & lays out some steps for action to be taken”
“They now provide transportation back to uni halls during the night so we make it back there safely”
“Sending invites to surveys such as this is a great move. I feel like there are plenty of people I could talk to in confidence if I wanted”
“I had a welfare case worker who supported me hugely. I would not have coped without her. I was also able to access wellbeing and counselling services”
“They address the issue of consent at the end of a fire safety talk which is at least something.”
Sexual assault or harassment is not your fault. It is never, ever your fault.
Sexual violence is a crime, no matter who commits it or where it happens. Don’t be afraid to get help. Find information, support and advice here – and if you are in need of urgent medical care or attention, call 999.