Sexual Violence Report falls short

A report investigating sexual violence and harassment in UK universities has been criticised for failing fully to address the problem.

An inquiry began last year due to growing alarm about harassment, sexual violence and hate crime on university campuses, and concerns about the way in which some institutions dealt with the problem.

‘Institution-wide violence against women, harassment and hate crime should be addressed by creating a zero-tolerance culture,’ is the view taken by a spokesperson from the University of Gloucestershire student union. This falls after the higher education representative body Universities UK (UUK), failed to tackle staff-student harassment adequately, focusing almost exclusively on incidents between students. The publication of the report, called Changing the Culture, occurred after a series of exclusive reports in the Guardian revealing the scale of sexual harassment and violence perpetrated by university staff on students and more junior colleagues.

Postgraduate and PhD students acknowledged that staff-to-student sexual harassment needed to be further addressed, along with online harassment and hate crimes on the grounds of race.

The report acknowledged that, in the absence of statistics from universities, it had relied on the National Union of Students (NUS) for data about sexual harassment and violence against women.

Rebecca Nice who was sexually harassed by a lecturer at Winchester University has made a point of addressing the difficulty of bringing a complaint against a member of staff.

Miss Nice told the Guardian “I had to go to [my harasser’s] boss, the dean of the faculty, there were too many loyalties and politics going on. There needs to be someone outside of that circle who can protect the student throughout the complaints procedure. It would help to erase that fear.”

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