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King’s College London has been awarded a grant from the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) to support its It Stops Here campaign. That’s one of 60 projects in universities and colleges across the country given £2.45m in grants, to address concerns about sexual violence and harassment on campus as raised in a taskforce report last year.
Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Jo Johnson, said: ‘We take any form of violence and sexual harassment extremely seriously, and expect universities to take a zero-tolerance approach. The interest and response to HEFCE’s fund has been hugely encouraging. The number of projects announced and the support shown reinforces the willingness of universities, across the country, to support staff and students in providing safe and secure campuses and I look forward to seeing the impact of these projects in due course.’
Dr Denise Meyer, head of the Student Wellbeing Service at Portsmouth, is leading the Portsmouth working group. She explained that the bid – made with the Students’ Union, local police and Portsmouth Abuse and Rape Crisis service, as well as nationally The 1752 Group and Universities UK – will fund campaigns to institute anonymous reporting of any incidents of harassment, bullying, violence or intimidation and to develop a Bystander Intervention training for students and staff to help tackle issues of bullying and violence.
Derby University will be working with local charities and statutory organisations to provide training for its staff. Likewise Keele will work with external organisations, Keele Students’ Union and trained student volunteers to develop resources, and to raise awareness, challenge existing attitudes and behaviours and encourage and promote behavioural change.
The University of Northampton’s New Spaces Project has been created with Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council and Rape Crisis. Sarah Armstrong-Hallam, Manager of Northampton’s Institute for Public Safety, Crime and Justice said: “Through a range of collaborative activities, the project will enable staff and students to well equipped to keep themselves and each other safer and will enable to University to develop appropriate responses to incidents of harassment on campus.”
Dr Jill LeBihan, Head of Student Engagement at Sheffield Hallam, said: “We’re pleased to receive funding from HEFCE to support our work with staff and students on creating a community where harassment is not tolerated.
“We hope that by working with current staff and students, to create resources and training programmes, we can set expectations about integrity, professionalism and respect, and lay the foundations for positive cultural change.”
At Oxford Brookes a pilot ‘social norms’ campaign aims to raise awareness of Brookes’ students’ behavioural norms and bystander role. A technical project seeks to identify the most appropriate mechanisms through which concerns can be reported, recorded and acted upon.
Prof Julie McLeod, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience), at Brookes, said: “Over recent years in response to concerns about misconduct incidences involving students, many universities have identified the need to ensure that interventions are in place to better identify, and maintain, appropriate ‘social norms’. This is something which Oxford Brookes is seeking to build on. It is recognised that there is a need to better understand students’ normative behaviours and evaluate what campaigns can be put in place to change behaviours. We hope this will help with allowing the whole student body to feel confident in the knowledge that it is acceptable and supported to challenge behaviours of their peers.”
And at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) new students will be given information in welcome packs before and just after they arrive about the University’s stance towards harassment and violence, as well as directing them to the extensive available support.
Also planned are a student-led campaign and drama performances in university-owned halls of residence. An online course called ‘Consent Matters’ will be offered and eventually a tailored version will be integrated into student training and advice packages.
It Stops Here, by King’s College London and the college’s students union KCLSU, seeks to challenge sexual harassment and build an environment where everyone feels welcome, supported and safe regardless of who they are.
The grants, from HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund, were issued to support universities to bring in recommendations made in a report by Universities UK Harassment Task Force. The report called for institutions to respond to sexual harassment more effectively and provide safe and secure campuses.
In September 2015, King’s launched the It Stops Here campaign and working group to address sexual harassment. The campaign seeks to raise awareness, provide support for survivors and equip staff and students to challenge sexual harassment whenever they see it.
Professor Edward Byrne AC, President and Principal of King’s College London said: ‘We aspire to be a community in which everybody feels acknowledged and respected for who they are, and can feel confident that harassment, discrimination and bullying, wherever these occur, will not be tolerated. We all undertake not to stand by if we see others engaging in sexual harassment and to be proactive in promoting a respectful culture. We will work together with the Students’ Union to make this aspiration an everyday reality.’
The Catalyst Fund will support the campaign in its next phase, launching an online consent course for students and continuing to improve reporting and support for staff and students.
HEFCE Chief Executive, Professor Madeleine Atkins, said: “All students should feel safe and supported during their time in higher education. Universities and colleges are working hard to tackle issues of sexual harassment and violence on campus, but there is more to be done. Their determination and commitment is evident in the overwhelmingly positive response to HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund call. We are delighted to be supporting a range of innovative projects, and we will be looking to share good practice and evidence of successful outcomes over the coming months.”
For a full list of the institutions given grants visit the HEFCE website.
For more on King’s visit https://blogs.kcl.ac.uk/itstopshere/.