Taking action against sexual harassment and misconduct
The Office for Students (OfS), independent regulator of higher education in England, recently advised all universities to review their sexual misconduct and harassment policies.
In line with this guidance, Solent has been reviewing its existing misconduct policy and updating this with the current expectations set out by the OfS.
As an institution, we are pleased that the majority of OfS recommendations are already part of our existing processes and, in addition, the University is continuing with a range of supporting measures including:
- Training from Yellow Door around sexual abuse and disclosure training for all front facing support staff has been scheduled for June/July 2021. This training will focus on managing initial disclosures of sexual abuse so that students can be offered confident, appropriate support upon disclosure. Training will also ensure that students are safeguarded, and knowledge of external services is offered to students.
- Mental Health Advisers reviewing mental health procedures in this area - Mental Health Advisers will undertake training set out within the Independent Sexual Violence Adviser model. This training will ensure that victims of sexual abuse can be provided emotional support as well as being given clear guidance on reporting processes ensuring students are given information at each stage.
- Working with our Students' Union to develop communications campaigns around ‘consent’ - We are looking at various educational models which will enable students to complete a training course on consent issues. This will be offered to students during the initial welcome period and early part of the new academic year.
Solent’s Student Union is also currently looking at various bystander models which can be implemented for the next academic year. A communications campaign highlighting important messages on the topic will be put in place; this will be in liaison with the SU and the University’s social media team.
- Liaising with University of Southampton and Hampshire Constabulary to ensure a joined up, city-wide response. We are also working with the police to ensure that a reporting tree model is included within our internal and external website.
Professor Karen Stanton, Vice-Chancellor, says: “We take the issues of harassment and sexual misconduct extremely seriously. No student should ever have to feel unsafe, and we are committed to providing a wide range of measures to ensure all our students feel supported throughout their time at Solent.”
“In light of guidance from OfS we are currently reviewing our policies and will make any necessary amendments together with launching a strategy to respond to enable greater support and access for those affected by this issue.”
Teodor Mitsev, Head of Student Wellbeing, Solent Students’ Union, says: “We are pleased to say that as a Students' Union we're working alongside with the University to ensure we can provide the best support possible and raise our voice for the importance of this topic. Sexual harassment, misconduct and consent are currently a priority on our campaign list, and we are doing our best to make sure our students are equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to feel empowered and supported.
“Dealing with such issues is never easy so we have our external contacts prepared to help us if needed as well. We work closely with charities and organisations around the country so we can make sure the students can access support on a national level.”
Support is available:
Staff can discuss any concerns with their manager in the first instance, or contact People and Development: firstname.lastname@example.org