Landmark report encourages universities to take a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to sexual violence on campus

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Landmark report encourages universities to take a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to sexual violence on campus

It’s about time

A government report published today has been sent to all UK universities listing recommendations on how they should deal with sexual violence, harassment and hate crimes. It’s the first report on sexual violence on campus in the past 12 years, and the biggest overhaul of university practices in the past 20 years.

The report puts more emphasis on universities to deal with sexual offences, and can allow them to take disciplinary action against students accused of sexual assault or harassment even if police decide not to prosecute.

The new guidelines also encourages universities to make students sign up to “codes of behaviour” when they enrol to reduce sexual harassment and hate crimes, advocating a “zero tolerance approach” and “highlighting upfront the behaviour expected from all students”.

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Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK and chair of the taskforce, said: “The university sector has been clear that there is no place for sexual violence, harassment or hate crime on a university campus, nor anywhere else. 

“The impact of any such incident on a student is so potentially serious that universities must be ready to respond effectively and proactively engage in prevention initiatives.

“The evidence showed that while many universities have already taken positive steps to address these issues, university responses are not always as joined-up as they could be. There is more work that can be done to share effective practice across the sector.”

The taskforce also looked at staff-to-student harassment, but Universities UK decided to consult universities, students and interested groups to see what more can be done to address the issue.

The report finished by encouraging different organisations to work together to hassle sexual harassment, allowing the NUS, JISC, and Reclaim the Internet to thoroughly assess what extra support might be needed.

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