We recognise that sexual harassment and violence is a problem in society and that it exists all around us. The Zero Tolerance project, which is part-funded by the HEFCE Catalyst Fund, builds upon and develops the existing Zero Tolerance work within the Students’ Union, the Athletic Union, and Student Services in relation to sexual harassment and violence.
This work has been guided by “Changing the Culture: Report of the Universities UK Taskforce examining violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students’’ and by new guidance for Higher Education Institutions on how to handle alleged student misconduct.
We are working towards a comprehensive training offering for staff and students for 2018 which will include consent training, bystander training and training in handling disclosures. The latter of which will be particularly useful for any staff who have direct contact with students.
Last month the university and Students’ Union held a panel discussion in The Gateway, City Campus titled “What can we do to prevent sexual violence?”. Panel speakers included Jan Daley (Associate Director, Student Services), Sarah Gillborn (Graduate Teaching Assistant in Psychology, former LBSU VP Welfare), Dr Tamara Turner-Moore (Senior Lecturer, School of Social Sciences) and PC Matthew Guy (Leeds Youth Crime Prevention Officer). An audience made up of students and staff were able to pitch their questions to the panel and talk about how to move things forward.
PC Matthew Guy said: “We need to move beyond asking ‘is this an institutional issue?’ and accept that this is a national issue. It is endemic. Leeds Beckett have always been very forward thinking about this, proactive and not fearful about moving forwards.”
Dr Tamara Turner-Moore said: “People do care and people do want to get involved, and they do want to prevent it but they don’t always know how. It’s important that we’re signposting people to what they can do if they want to help.”
Off-campus, our university has been working with community organisations including Safer Leeds and local pubs and clubs to help facilitate safer spaces for students.
Listening to the views and experiences of our students has been key to helping us plan where to focus our efforts and two focus groups have already taken place alongside the online survey to help us understand which support mechanisms students are aware of and trust, and also how confident they would be in reporting an allegation.
We are taking a number of positive steps to embed this culture of Zero Tolerance at our university including:
- A support infrastructure which will provide a first point of contact for any student wanting someone to talk to after an incident, and access to more specialist support sources both within and outside the university and Students’ Union.
- A simple reporting system to record disclosures and encourage students to report incidents, anonymously if they choose.
- A training program that will encompass consent and bystander training, and the handling of disclosures.
- Updating policies and procedures which reflect our shared values about Zero Tolerance.
- New promotional and awareness-raising materials for staff and students.
- Broader partnership arrangements with city-based agencies in order to promote student safety off campus.
Our Zero Tolerance microsite is currently under construction, and will contain links to more information and to book training. In the meantime, if you want to know more about the Zero Tolerance project, please contact Sheila Duxbury or Beth Fadden.
For more information on the Gendered Violence 1to1 Support or to pledge your commitment to a Zero Tolerance culture please click here.