University of Sussex: Review and Update Procedures and Support Around Sexual Misconduct

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Paige Lewis
Paige Lewis signed this petition

We Demand:
- A commitment from the senior university management to meet with us before Semester two to discuss the changes we need in the university and host a focus group with students to discuss issues and needs
- There to be a review and change of the current disciplinary procedure at Sussex University and there to be public evidence of this.
- Mandatory training in disclosures and signposting around sexual misconduct for departments such as discipline, student life centre, directors of student experience and academic advisors including annual refresher courses
- For a better support system for students at Sussex University , including a specialised survivors network drop in on campus run by trained professionals
- A better system of communication between wellbeing coordinators, discipline and student life centre to avoid wrong information being given to vulnerable students.
- For Sussex University to publicly recognise the extent of the problem, actively take steps to improve this and show what progress has been made

Why Under the Sheets Matters:
According to the Guardian (2018) ‘Nearly one in 10 female students who responded to a study of sexual violence in higher education said they had been raped.’ Reports and unreported accounts of sexual misconduct are on the rise in the UK Universities, yet not enough is being done.
Sussex University no longer runs the I Heart Consent programme and students are consistently reporting being let down by the University. If this is such a huge problem, why isn’t it being spoken about? Where is the extra support? Why is Sussex not opening up the conversation when they have a duty of care?
Back in 2017, Sussex University apologised for the ‘inadequate’ way it handled a case where a former student was attacked by her lecturer. The student was ‘knocked out’ by DR Lee Salter in 2015 but continued teaching for a further 10 months. At this point the University management claimed they’d do better – nothing has changed.
In summer 2018 the Argus reported a rape of a student during Sussex Freshers week – why was this not address by the university? Why was systems not reviewed and put in place to prevent this?
This are reported public cases. These do not reflect the true extent of the problem
Sussex students are angry. Being sexually assaulted should not be apart of the university experience.

Our Research
We (Sussex Under the Sheets) conducted a survey asking students a range of questions regarding sexual assault both on and off campus.
According to our research, 57% of respondents reported witness’ an event of sexual harassment or assault while being a Sussex student with 54% reporting they were the victim.
Only 40% of respondents reported feeling safe on campus compared to only 2% when asked the same question but for off campus.
Only 14% felt Sussex University was doing enough to protect students yet 88% felt sexual harassment and assault was a big problem in universities.
Students also reported the following:
‘I would just like Sussex to man up and admit there is a problem’
‘I have been overwhelmed with the amount of survivors at Sussex, I don’t think anyone realises the extent of the problem’
‘I believe the university is a system of power. It does not care about individual safety but for protecting its reputation, image and economy.’
Case study
One student we spoke to said it took nearly three and a half months to get a panel date set. They said student discipline had told them their attacker was both suspended and excluded yet found out via social media they had continued remotely with studies and were allowed to both attend graduation and graduate. They expressed the communication was poor, lack consistency and empathy.
The current student discipline procedure is failing students. It is allowing accused to graduate and carry on while victims are left helpless.
Sussex University has a duty of care. With rising assault why is it not doing enough?
‘I feel like Sussex doesn’t talk about the problem because it doesn’t want a bad reputation, we all know Sussex has a habit of covering things up. How is this helping?’
We not only want change but evidence things are being done, please help us campaign for change.

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