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Students Share Shocking Cases Of Sexual Assault On Campus Using #UnsafeAtUni

One woman described how she was groped by her lecturer in front of her classmates.

21/10/2016 15:47

Hundreds of women are sharing their experiences of sexual assault and harassment on campus using the hashtag #UnsafeAtUni

With students revealing they have been groped by lecturers and spiked in nightclubs, the hashtag has shined a light on the shocking reality of life as a female student.

The hashtag was initiated by Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates in response to a report released today about how universities deal with sexual violence.

The study by Universities UK found campuses need to overhaul their approach to sexual assault and adopt a hands-on, zero-tolerance policy when dealing with incidents. 

Under the current 1994 ‘Zellick’ guidelines, universities are advised not to investigate allegations of sexual violence or implement disciplinary procedures unless the victim has reported the crime to the police.

The inquiry, carried out by a task force of student leaders, university staff and experts, was initiated following rising concerns from students about the prevalence of sex attacks on campus and how they are dealt with by universities. 

“We urgently need a nationwide conversation about how we tackle these problems on campus,” Bates said. 

Under the new guidelines, universities will make it easier for students to report incidents of sexual assault and will offer more support and advice to victims. 

Bates said the Everyday Sexism Project had received stories from thousands of students and women working at universities who have experienced sexual harassment, assault and rape on campus and “have been dismissed, disbelieved and gone unsupported by peers and universities in the aftermath.”

“It is a scandal that many universities still have no clear policies in place for tackling sexual violence, or supporting survivors and fully dealing with cases when they arise.

“This is a matter of great urgency and we wanted to help drive the conversation forward by raising awareness of how severe and prevalent the problem is. The response has been huge, with many students and university staff sharing their own stories and experiences online, echoing and repeating the same experiences we’ve heard over and over again from students up and down the country,” Bates said. 

While there are no official figures about the number of young women assaulted at university, a 2015 Telegraph survey reported that one in three undergraduate students had been the victim of violence or unwanted advances. 

The new report suggests universities should develop a centralised reporting system for sexual violence, harassment and hate crimes and should offer students support, advice and assistance. 

It also states that universities should clearly set out how they expect their students to behave and that an annual national conference should be held for the next three years to allow institutions to share good practice. 

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK and chair of the task force, said: “The university sector has been clear that there is no place for sexual violence, harassment or hate crime on a university campus, nor anywhere else.

“The impact of any such incident on a student is so potentially serious that universities must be ready to respond effectively and proactively engage in prevention initiatives.

She added that while the issue is not “isolated” to higher education institutions, universities “have a significant role to play, and are in a position to lead the way in preventing and responding to violence against women, harassment and hate crime, beyond the boundaries of the university campus.” 

Universities minister Jo Johnson said it was now important that these recommendations, which have been sent to all UK universities, are implemented. 

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