The University of Greenwich needs to start prioritising the prevention of sexual violence!
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An open letter to the Vice Chancellor at the University of Greenwich:
In full awareness and concern, we, the undersigned, make an urgent call to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Greenwich to:
1) Communicate Sexual Violence as a priority. It’s not enough to simply have a policy – we need action and we need actions to be communicated clearly. We ask the University to work with the Students’ Union to facilitate dialogue with students about the policy to ensure it is impactful. Students who work with us on this project should be reimbursed and working directly with the University through a Student Consultation Group;
2) Implement a real Zero Tolerance Approach – hard-line consequences for those who perpetrate. Ensure students, staff, and the local community are aware of this.
3) Show genuine partnership with the SU by funding a front-line Sexual Violence Liaison Officer who works with students through the Union;
4) Work with the Students’ Union to lobby the local Council(s) to increase safety in local neighbourhoods to protect the wellbeing of students at the University of Greenwich.
5) Drafted staff training should be released in time for Personal Tutors supporting students in the 2018/19 cohort, and this training should be mandatory for student-facing staff.
The University have taken some great initial steps by creating the Sexual Violence Policy; with senior buy-in through the previous Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic), and collaboration with the Students’ Union there has been great progress made in this area. However, the final consultation on the Policy finished in August 2017, and there has yet to be wider communication of the Policy and its implications to students.
It is widely recognised that sexual harassment at universities has reached disturbing levels. As this issue continues to pose a growing threat towards students, the need for universities to adopt progressive measures to effectively respond to harassment has never been more prominent. The most recent survey on student sexual assault by the National Union of Students found 1 in 7 students reported being a victim of serious sexual or physical assault during their time at university. In addition, only 10% of those sexually assaulted felt able to report it to the police, and even fewer (4%) to their university. This clearly illustrates the seriousness of the issue, and the pervasive stigmas which prevent students from seeking the support they are entitled to from society and the University. We want to ensure more is done to prioritise the safety of students at Greenwich.
Enough is enough - incidents are happening far too often on our campuses and to our students. It is essential that the University does not perpetuate the stigma of shame that surrounds discussions of sexual violence by avoiding difficult conversations. The University must host open dialogue with students and staff to make the policy a piece of preventative and proactive work. Let’s start celebrating our success of having a progressive and holistic Sexual Violence Policy. Let’s make it clear that there is no room for perpetrators here at Greenwich. Let’s have real, informative talks about consent. Let’s work together to make our University a safer place for everyone!
As outlined in the University of Greenwich Strategy, the University wants to “Make Greenwich Great”, well let’s do that, and have a strategic focus on student safety and wellbeing that is communicated to students.
Luke Ellis | Vice President (Welfare) on behalf of the Students’ Union Welfare Council 17-18
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