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Tackling sexual violence and harassment on campus

Published: 25 Apr 2018 11:30

New toolkit to address gender-based violence in universities and colleges.

New practical guidance for universities to tackle gender-based violence on campus has been published.

Guidance and training for staff, better data collection and well-publicised support information for students are some of the recommendations set out in the toolkit, which has been produced by the University of Strathclyde and funded by the Scottish Government.

The toolkit, which will be adapted for colleges, takes forward the principles set out in the #emilytest campaign set up by Fiona Drouet, in memory of her daughter Emily.

An additional £396,000 of Scottish Government funding will support the roll-out and implementation of the toolkit.

Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“Universities and colleges have a duty to foster a culture on campus that is clear in its condemnation of gender-based violence and gives staff and students the confidence to report unacceptable behaviour.

“That is why I have made the adoption of the policies and procedures outlined in this toolkit a key feature of my Letter of Guidance to the sector this year. I know universities and colleges are up for the challenge and I am keen to see this commitment translate into real, demonstrable action and change for women living, working and researching on campus.”

Fiona Drouet said:

“The launch of the toolkit, along with the Ministerial letter of guidance to the Scottish Funding Council, is a significant turning point with regards to gender-based violence on campus. It is a very important day for all Scottish students.

“This is Emily’s legacy and I hope both staff and students will feel empowered by this resource. Institutions now have the help they need to pass the #emilytest and I believe that had this been in place while our daughter was at university it could have saved her life.

“We couldn’t help Emily but the #emilytest can save others - a legacy Emily would be proud of.”

Dr Veena O’Halloran, the University of Strathclyde’s Secretary and Compliance Officer, said:

“Universities are well-placed to take a leading role in tackling gender-based violence wherever it may occur, through research, teaching and knowledge exchange. As a socially-progressive University, Strathclyde aims to be at the forefront of this work.

“We are delighted that the Equally Safe in Higher Education toolkit is being made available to universities across the country. We are determined that Scotland has an environment where every student has equal access to help and support, and where university communities – staff, students and alumni -  tackle gender-based violence head-on.”

Background

The Equally Safe in Higher Education Toolkit recommends that each university:

  • develops a strategy and implementation plan to tackle gender-based violence.
  • establishes a Strategic Group to oversee the implementation of the strategy and appoint a named champion or coordinator to report on progress.
  • introduces guidance and training for staff in responding to disclosures of gender-based violence and supporting victims/survivors.
  • develops a secure data collection system to record incidences of gender-based violence and undertakes research to ensure the extent and nature of the issue on campus is fully understood.
  • ensures well-publicised points of contact for students reporting gender-based violence
  • introduces policies for staff and students, including a clearly established code of conduct, disciplinary procedures and sanctions for perpetrators of gender-based violence

The University of Strathclyde received over £600,000 of funding over two years from the Violence Against Women and Girls Justice Budget to pilot a 2 year project to develop an Equally Safe in Higher Education Toolkit for preventing gender-based violence within higher education institutions (£292,729 in 2016-17, and £311,231 in 2017-18).  

The Toolkit was developed at University of Strathclyde in close collaboration with a range of external partners and stakeholders including, Police Scotland, NUS Scotland, Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre, ASSIST Glasgow, Zero Tolerance Scotland,  Glasgow Violence Against Women Partnership, Scottish Women’s Rights Centre and cottish Women’s Aid.

The Emily Test Petition was set up after Mrs Drouet’s daughter, Emily, a student at the University of Aberdeen, took her own life in March 2016. The campaign calls for increased Scottish Government funding for colleges and universities to support students affected by gender based violence (GBV).