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Roehampton University Students Are Hanging Underwear Around Campus To Highlight Sexual Assault Campaign

Students are set to hold a 'lie in' protest at the University of Roehampton next week.

21/03/2017 16:55

London students have hung underwear decorated with quotes from sexual assault victims around campus to demand a dedicated university staff member to tackle rape and harassment. 

Led by the Feminist Society, campaigners at the University of Roehampton are also set to hold a “lie in” protest in the student union next week to highlight the extent of the issue. 

A 2015 Telegraph investigation found that a third of female students have endured a sexual assault or unwanted advances while at university. 

Megan Jackson
Roehampton University students have hung underwear decorated with quotes from sexual assault victims around campus

Feminist Society president Zoë Cartlidge was inspired to launch the project after she was sexually assaulted in her first year of university. 

The dance student said: “I was assaulted in my freshers week, so I had only just moved away from home. 

“He was a year older than me, and introduced me to a lot of his friends on a night out and just seemed like a normal guy.” 

Zoe Cartlidge
Zoë Cartlidge launched the campaign after she was sexually assaulted as a fresher

The 21-year-old continued: “I don’t want to recall the whole night, but he ended up assaulting me in my campus room, whilst I was crying and shaking and telling him to stop. 

“After the assault I had no idea where to turn or who to go to, ultimately leading to me feeling very alone and scared. This then made me see that there needed to be clearer and more specific support for these kinds of issues on campus.”  

While there are already members of university staff who can provide support to assault victims, Cartlidge said it was important to have a dedicated person on campus students can turn to. 

Megan Jackson
Students are set to hold a 'lie in' protest in the student union next week 

She said: “Our campaign is about getting an unbiased and professionally trained member of staff to work on campus in a full time position that is specifically tackling issues of sexual assault, harassment and rape.

“We want there to be very clear guidelines on how to contact this person available online and throughout our campus so that those affected by these issues have a very clear place to go and seek support.”  

A spokesperson for the university said that there are already officers on campus trained to provide “professional and unbiased support”, while free in-house counselling is offered on site.  

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The University of Roehampton said there are already members of staff available to help students deal with sexual assault, rape and harassment 

They said: “The welfare team at the University of Roehampton is led by Dr Aleata Alstad-Calkins who has completed a PhD in post-assault care and has undertaken specialist training at a rape crisis centre.

“In addition, students also have access to four student welfare officers, who are trained to handle reports of sexual assault and offer support during police interviews; these welfare officers can provide assistance with post-assault services such as medical treatment and long-term therapy and provide
ongoing support for the duration of the survivor’s studies.”

The spokesperson added: “The university takes a proactive role in protecting our students from experiencing sexual assault.” 

Earlier this year, the university formed a sexual assault and harassment working group “to improve awareness and prevention”.

Rape Crisis services for women and girls who have been raped or have experienced sexual violence - 0808 802 9999
Survivors UK offers support for men and boys - 0203 598 3898

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