UK Universities Investigate Sexual Assaults

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UK Universities Investigate Sexual Assaults 

Katia Baudon had to retake her first year at Kent University after her enrolment in September, 2015 due to a great ordeal she experienced on her very first day as a fresher at Kent University. She was raped by a fellow student and this traumatized her. In February 2016, Katie reported her ordeal to the University authorities and they put her in touch with the police. The police said that, due to insufficient evidence; because she had reported it four months after the event, therefore her case cannot be prosecuted.  According to Baudon, she was unable to tell her university when the assault first happened because felt isolated and had panic attacks on a daily basis and came out to say something because she heard another student had said she had been assaulted by the same person. Katia is now campaigning to stop female students who are sexually harassed or assaulted from suffering in silence and advices the university to step in so the females in Kent University will feel safe and not weakened in the environment.

The #MeToo era, in which women are speaking out about harassment has pushed UK universities have been to admit that they have a serious problem Students after so many years of denial says the National Union of Student. The students are finding ways of handling sexual assaults whereas others are investigating incidents themselves when the police department cannot help them. Katia Baudon is a worker in a student nightclub and says there are a lot of issues in the club around unsolicited touching. Men feel they can do it because they are drunk and the other person is drunk. It was found that 70% of female students experienced sexual harassment or assault, according to a survey published in March and that the study, by Revolt Sexual Assault and the Student Room website, also noted that only 6% of these students reported the incident to their university. The NUS’s national women’s officer, Hareem Ghani, stated that some years ago some institutions told union officers that consent workshops were not necessary, that women were exaggerating claims or it wasn’t the responsibility of the university to educate students. 

‘'Baudon’s university, Kent, has successfully lobbied the local licensing committee so that bars and venues in Canterbury now have to promise to tackle verbal and physical sexual abuse or assault as part of their license agreement. And the students’ union has been funded by the police to train staff in all these places – from the bars and clubs that students frequent to the burger joints they call in at as they stagger home afterwards – to intervene when they see someone being harassed.’ ‘Ruth Wilkinson, the president of Kent students’ union, explains: “Groping happens everywhere. And I’ve had negative experiences of reporting it, where I’ve told a bouncer and they just shrug. This is the sort of thing we are trying to change. That idea of entitlement, that you can touch someone’s body without consent, is so dangerous.”

Dr. Gillian Harrop, a senior lecturer in forensic psychology, says: “It takes just one person speaking up to change a group dynamic.” Worcester University the rugby team has been asked to join one of the psychology department’s new “bystander” courses on how to intervene to stop harassment and some student unions are focusing on working with their sports clubs. In any case, she includes: “Students are not good at describing what constitutes sexual assault. For example on the off chance that somebody was being what they call 'somewhat helpful' in a club, they would simply consider it to be something that happens. We have been very clear that unwanted touching is not acceptable.

Prof Steve West, vice-chancellor of the University of the West of England (UWE), says ‘institutions tread a fine line because they aren’t parents, and students are young adults trying to establish their own identity; and that coming September, a workshop like this will be compulsory for all students. The university is among a few other universities that has voiced out to the public that the university will take action against offenders for itself if the victims can’t go the police and that students are expected to be fully engaged and committed to their studies on campus. The Vice Chancellor, Prof Steve West has called in a criminology professor, Kieran McCartan, to work with students who have made inappropriate comments or grabbed someone, before their behavior escalates. “We've built up a program that is tied in with inspiring them to consider what they've done and why it was improper.” 

‘Some academics argue that sexism and assault on campus are just a reflection of where we are in society as a whole. But Prof Deborah Johnston, pro-director for teaching and learning at Soas University of London, disagrees: “We know from reports across the HE sector that sexual harassment is widespread, and that isn’t just student to student it is also staff to student. In my view there is something about the nature of a university environment that enables this kind of harassment to be perpetuated. Soas was one of the first universities to publish a clear zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment and violence, at the start of 2016. It gives mandatory consent training to all undergraduates, provided by the union, so that students are more likely to listen, as well as training for staff at all levels.’

"It makes a difference that we include everybody as it's about culture change and you have to give everybody the apparatuses," Johnston says. "In the event that a victim chooses not to influence a grievance to the police we clearly that we will investigate and can take disciplinary action. Be that as it may, the general purpose isn't to wind up there. That happens on the grounds that everything else has fizzled. 

Source: The guardian news

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