27.01.22: IUA universities welcome the publication of the HEA survey reports on Staff and Student Experiences of Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. These reports are an important step in building the evidence base in relation to sexual violence and harassment, to identify areas for improvement, and against which to assess the impact of targeted initiatives across the higher education system.
The surveys and reports follow on from the ground-breaking work undertaken in NUI Galway through the student sexual experiences survey of 2020 and come at a time when all universities and HEIs are fully engaged in implementing comprehensive consent framework implementation plans.
Commenting on the survey findings Dr Marie Connolly, Director of Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at University of Limerick and Chair of the IUA VPs of EDI group said, “While its positive that the majority of our staff and students feel safe from sexual violence and harassment on campus it is very clear that there is a lot more work to do. Following events of recent weeks we are very aware that sexual violence and harassment is a societal issue and universities are very keen to play an active role in leading and influencing societal responses.“ Dr Connolly continued, “Universities have built up a significant body of expertise in this area, both practitioner, and research and policy expertise, and with appropriate investment, have the capability to significantly alter the experience of sexual violence and harassment particularly among women in our university communities, and in wider society.”
Some notable initiatives that have occurred since the survey was conducted in April 2021 include the launch of the Speak Out anonymous reporting tool across the sector from October 2021. Speak Out is an accessible ‘Report and Support’ system for students and staff to disclose and report incidents that is both transparent and inclusive. The focus on supports for those coming forward with disclosures ensures that those who come forward are not re-traumatised by the experience of reporting.
In addition, the unmute consent campaign was rolled out in Sept/Oct which was a joint initiative between HEIs, the HEA, IUA, THEA and USI to develop further awareness on the issue, and the supports and training that are available to all students.
More information: Lia O’Sullivan, Head of Communications, Irish Universities Association 085 7141414 firstname.lastname@example.org