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#StandByMe – What is the future for student survivor support?

Monday 06-06-2016 - 14:53

NUS Womens' Campaign have collected the results from the #StandByMe Consultation!

In March this year the UUK taskforce on violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students agreed to review the Zellick guidelines. The rejection of the Zellick guidelines by the higher education sector and the creation of new recommendations on how to tackle sexual violence in higher education, including robust reporting and disciplinary guidelines and survivor support is something that NUS Women’s Campaign and Rape Crisis UK has been campaigning for through the #StandByMe Campaign.

 

However, we believe that the development of national guidelines to tackle sexual violence on campus should have the voices of students at its centre. That is why we launched the #StandByMe consultation in April 2016 to collect Students’ Unions views on what should be in place to support students who have been affected by sexual assault and sexual violence. Today we have launched the results of the #StandByMe consultation.

 

The results from the #StandByMe consultation look at what a holistic approach to tackling sexual violence should look like- ranging from what types of policy need to be in place to what good reporting and disciplinary procedures should look like. Common issues that were highlighted included the following:

 

  • Survivors need to be treated with dignity and respect when they disclose. Staff need to have training in order to respond appropriately to disclosures.

 

  • Institutions and students’ unions should have joint zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment and assault. They should also have student and staff codes of conduct that outline how sexual assault is a breach of those codes of conduct.

 

  • Reasonable adjustments for survivors should be in place.  Many respondents highlighted how survivors must be given extensions for assessed work/ time off to complete their studies if needed.

 

  • Survivors need to have access to support services to prevent them from dropping out and to ensure their wellbeing.

 

We have also combined the results of consultation into a short manifesto outlining our recommendations to the UUK Taskforce. These recommendations are around how to improve support for student survivors and for students’ unions to use as guidance to ensure better support for their students.

 

We understand that, amongst other actions, the taskforce aims to develop a set of principles and practical recommendations that universities and students’ unions can adapt and implement to suit their own context. We believe, however, that if there is no clear mandate through legislation to ensure that these measures are enforced, there will be no consistency across the sector in the way that sexual violence is tackled or in how survivors are supported.

 

Providing support for student survivors should not be optional. No student who experiences sexual violence should be subjected to a post code lottery in terms of how they can report and be supported by their institution. For effective change, the leaders of our education sector need to accept the challenge and commit to being both proactive and accountable for setting standards across the sector to address sexual violence.

 

That is why, in addition to our manifesto recommendations, we are campaigning to make it a legal Duty for higher education institutions to address sexual violence on campus. We are also asking the taskforce to recommend that any data collected in higher education institutions on incidents of sexual violence should be centrally collated and published.  

 

For further information on any of the consultation results please contact sally.thomas@nus.org.uk. For more information about the #StandByMe campaign please contact NUS’ Women’s Officer: susuana.amoah@nus.org.uk

 

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