Domestic violence has increased by 10 per cent in the last year and one in three women students will experience some form of harassment during their time at university. One in seven will experience serious sexual and physical violence (rape). Currently students are being let down by having inaccessible and inappropriate reporting systems.
With local women’s services being dramatically cut also, those who are dealing with the aftermath of violence and harassment are forced to fend for themselves.
“Many universities and colleges lack basic protocol on how to respond to cases of sexual assault – they are failing women students.”
- Hareem Ghani, NUS Women’s Officer
This will negatively impacts women students’ time in education, their participation in lectures and seminars, their relationships, self-esteem and feeling of safety on campus. Some students will even drop out of their course in response to a system where incidents barely get reported and when they do the victim is often blamed for their experience.
We believe that women have a right to study and teach, free from harassment, objectification and sexual violence.
If ignored, it will continue to harm the experience of women not enabling them to participate fully or take an active role not only during their time at university or college but in society more widely.
It stops here.
What are we doing about it?
NUS is providing resources and training to enable students to understand consent and the impact of lad culture. We have worked with the wider sector to offer guidance to institutions on how to offer proper support for students that are survivors of sexual violence. We are also providing support to women’s officers, campaigns and feminist societies across the UK, equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to strengthen our movement.
What can you do to help?
You can get your students’ union involved by proposing a motion at your student council or similar, mandating your union to lobby your university to speak out nationally. You can also lobby your Vice Chancellor or Principle if you think that your university or college is not effectively responding to or supporting students who have experienced sexual violence. For instance, if the reporting process or disciplinary procedures are not appropriate. Consider launching a campaign through hosting an event that raises awareness around the issue and encourages fellow students to get involved.
We will also be looking to hear your stories so that we can compile reports and studies on the experience of women on campuses in the UK. This will enable us to make a case for action on a national level.
The Hidden Marks report (2010) looked at women’s experiences of harassment, stalking, violence and sexual assault. The That's What She Said report (2013) outlined women students experiences of lad culture on campus and how it impacted their education and welfare. NUS’ Tackling Lad Culture Hub offers information and resources for students’ unions who want to create their own strategy. More information on the Women’s campaign is available from Hareem.Ghani@nus.org.uk
See the Women’s hub on NUS Connect for resources to run training sessions for students on campus and information on a variety of campaigns.