Campaign Update: Adding our voice to sexual assault conversation

What we're doing in response to a conversation focused on tackling sexual assault within education settings which recently gained national attention.

Beds SU

By Beds SU

Friday, 11 June 2021

A conversation focused on tackling sexual assault within education settings has recently gained national attention with commitments from professionals across the education sector, including the Office for Students setting out expectations and plans to tackle the situation.

What has prompted the conversation?

An organisation call Everyone’s Invited (https://www.everyonesinvited.uk/)  have been collecting and collating the experience of survivors of sexual assault and have started to publicise what has been shared with them, so change can be made.

As a result various parties that work to support students including their welfare have responded.  This includes the Office for Students who have published a statement of expectations that they expect higher education institutions to follow in order to tackle rape culture on campus. 

What are we doing?

Beds SU is always looking at ways it can support the student community here at the University on issues both from an institute perspective and on a national level, of which this matter sits. We therefore believe that engaging the University now on how we can ensure we have appropriate measures in place to support our students is essential in delivering a positive way forward in how we tackle instances of sexual abuse. 

On 8th June 2021, we wrote to the Vice-chancellor of the University setting out nine measures we would like them to consider, to ensure the processes in place for tackling such instances are appropriate and effective.

We want to work together with the university and all relevant stakeholders to help make sure our students are protected from experiencing sexual assault, making all our spaces safe for all students and giving students the knowledge of where to go and how to report cases and the confidence to come forward and talk about their experience.

We are not doing this in response to any specific incidences at the University of Bedfordshire (UoB), but given the number of testimonials submitted to spaces such as Everyone’s Invited in recent months, we feel it is important to get the University to review current measures and amend as required. 

What do we want to change?

In our letter, we have set our goals, objectives, and expectations which we feel need to be implemented to benefit students. These include:

  • The introduction of mandatory consent training for students and a consent test which must be successfully completed before registration is complete.
  • The university to make a visible and ongoing commitment to tackling sexual abuse by reviewing and updating all its policies and procedures in a transparent and collaborative way. 
  • UoB to commit to taking every report of sexual assault on campus credibly and seriously and carry out an investigation into every report – even if the reporter or alleged perpetrator has left the university.
  • UoB to end the use of non-disclosure agreements when resolving investigations into sexual assault. 

This is not all we have asked the university to consider, just a summary of some of the main points.

How can I become involved?

If you have experienced or witnessed sexual assault at University of Bedfordshire – you can report this, or access support, using the University’s Support and Report facility on the main website. This is available here - https://www.beds.ac.uk/student-support/supportandreport/

You can also help us by contacting us and telling us what you think we should do, sharing you experience through the Everyone’s Involved website, help us engage our students through social media, talking to one of your reps or asking for support from the university or Beds SU. 

You can contact Beds SU through the Be Heard or Be Supported team. Please find the contact details of these teams below. 

Be Heard - be.heard@beds.ac.uk

Be Supported - be.supported@beds.ac.uk