The Inclusive University

UWE support for the Zero Tolerance campaign

Posted by Valerie Russell Emmott | 0 Comments
This article is taken from the Zero Tolerance campaign website and was originally published in April 2016 prior to the Bristol mayoral election:

The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) have been involved in Bristol Zero Tolerance from the beginning and are championing the issue of addressing gender-based violence in Bristol with the University of Bristol and others.

We spoke to Professor Jane Harrington, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, to find out what has been implemented and what they are planning for the future:

 Professor Harrington, the Bristol Zero Tolerance initiative was needed because of the attitudes that she saw in students regarding gender-based violence: "I have been shocked by attitudes of students across the sector and was concerned that we had a specific policy to deal with this issue at UWE Bristol… In particular I have an interest in seeing that female students and staff have a safe working environment and that there are policies in place to ensure this. We obviously have a focus on students because this is a large issue, particularly around alcohol-related sexual violence and harassment. But it also translates to staff and it is important that staff also have a safe environment. Their home life can impact on the workplace, there is also the relationship of staff to students which needs to be appropriate, and it is also student to student. So we want to work on all of these aspects."

Professor Harrington is the Senior Lead for Gender at UWE and a member of the Bristol Women’s Commission and it was through this role that she was involved in setting up Bristol Zero Tolerance. "We felt it was the most pressing problem in the city and that we shouldn’t ignore it but should take a stance and not just sign the pledge but take actions, and this was an impetus for us to take action at UWE Bristol… I was the Chair of the Transport Sub-Group on the Women’s Commission and the biggest issue with transport is safety, likewise with housing, safety is a huge issue. So it impacts on so many areas. When we look at the percentage of sexual violence and domestic violence in society, it just has to be one of our main priorities, safety has to be a priority, because if we confront that and use it as a baseline then we can tackle the other issues of inequality against women and others."

‘Safety has to be a priority, because if we confront that and use it as a baseline then we can tackle the other issues of inequality against women and others.’ – Professor Harrington

For UWE Bristol, being involved in Bristol Zero Tolerance was important, as gender-based violence was an increasing concern and it was a priority to ensure the right response for students. For Professor Harrington it also "means that we can push in the direction that we were already going more quickly. It sends out a clear public message to students and staff about our values and the actions that we will take if they are not carried out."

UWE Bristol have also joined proactively with the University of Bristol and both student unions as well as with other agencies, such as the Police and Bristol Zero Tolerance, to create the Forum Against Sexual Violence and Harassment, which is a great example of joint working to create change on this issue. The Staff unions are also supportive and they are hoping to work with them further on this issue.

Externally, through the Intervention Initiative, they hope to help other universities and further education colleges implement this preventative work to tackle the problems of gender-based violence before they occur. As Professor Harrington notes, "if we can stop sexual violence before it happens, it is better than dealing with the consequences."

"If we can stop sexual violence before it happens, it is better than dealing with the consequences." – Professor Harrington

For Professor Harrington, a Zero Tolerance City would mean "that all aspects of sexual violence and harassment are tackled appropriately and people are empowered to take appropriate action and are confident that this action will be supported by the relevant bodies in the city, such as the Police, the universities and other services like The Bridge… I also want women to feel confident that if gender-based violence occurs or they are in fear of it occurring, that there is a place that they can seek help and be confident of this… My vision is that the percentage of domestic violence and sexual violence is diminished dramatically from where it is now and that this is not seen as a daily occurrence – that it rarely happens and is dealt with when it does… I want Bristol to feel a safer city to be a woman in."

She also has a message for the city leaders in Bristol: "I hope that whoever the elected mayor is after May 2016 that they commit to supporting this initiative and I hope that they see gender-based violence as unacceptable and want to address it, as well as recognising that this doesn’t happen without commitment
and funding!

We can’t disagree with that!











Research Focus: Bisexuality

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Various surveys indicate that the number of young people in the UK who identify themselves as bisexual is increasing (including students at UWE). However, bisexual people have often been overlooked within academia and in wider society.

Nikki Hayfield is working with two psychology undergraduate students at UWE to identify what is known and what gaps exist in our knowledge and understanding of bisexuality.

Currently the project focus is on bisexual people and their relationships, and ‘biphobia’ and bisexual marginalisation. The aim to develop ideas for future research that can increase our understandings of bisexual people’s lived experiences, and address misconceptions around bisexuality.

Ron Ritchie: his thoughts on leaving UWE

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Contributed by Ron Ritchie, Senior Diversity Champion

A retirement event for UWE's senior diversity champion, Prof Ron Ritchie, was held on 26 August in the Community Hub.
Ron was invited to reflect on his 40 year career in education in the greater Bristol area as a secondary school teacher, primary teacher and leader, local authority advisory teacher and HE teacher and leader.
He explained that he had very mixed feeling about leaving UWE having tried so hard to get here - first in the late 80s - before, several applications later,  he finally arrived here in 2001. He said that he had wanted to work here for a simple reason - it seemed like an institution that shared many of the values he held as important. It turned out to be a move that never disappointed him - he said he had always been immensely proud of the difference UWE makes to its students, its staff, local communities and the  local economy, culture and society. It had, he stated, been a genuine privilege to work here with many highly talented and committed individuals.
He emphasised the importance to him of values - what we hold as important as human beings - and noted that there's a big difference between espousing values and living them out. He said he had always tried to do the latter, not always successfully!
He explained his commitment to social justice and moral purpose was a result of experiencing the transforming power of education on his own life, being the first in his family to go to university. He had left school and started an apprenticeship in the aircraft industry which led to him studying aeronautics and astronautics at Southampton University. Whilst there he found life in student politics and the SU more stimulating and rewarding than his academic work. He spent a lot of time on campaigns such as those related to improving the opportunities for local youth and challenging negative attitudes towards mental health.
At this point, Ron reflected on choices we all have to become a 'prisoner, passenger or participant' in society - he had determined to become a participant and an activist!
He decided to complete his degree and train as a teacher. His experiences on a PGCE at Sussex University, especially in disadvantaged areas like the Moulscombe Estate, reinforced his commitment to fighting injustice and promoting equality. As a young teacher in a challenging Bristol comprehensive, his love of teaching developed and his activism led to him becoming the school's NUT rep.
He explained that his growing understanding and commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion was strengthened through living in Bristol and valuing the diversity of its population whilst feeling aggrieved about the inequality he saw. He also referred to his personal experience as a father and how this had informed his understanding of equality issues and increased his commitment to improve things, this included having a daughter who suffered from a serious mental health condition and another who is gay and now a university teacher.
Returning to other values that are important to him, Ron shared his belief in the importance of lifelong and life wide learning - saying he was always happy, even as a professor, to call himself first a foremost a learner. Indeed, he noted, his role as UWE's diversity champion had been a rich learning journey. He said how pleased he was to be supporting Bristol's ambition to be a Learning City as a consultant post his UWE retirement.
Ron stressed how much he had enjoyed teaching and believed that you should always strive for improvement given your responsibilities to learners, young or old. He reminded us that 'you don't have to be ill to get better'!
He talked about how he had always valued research and scholarship - his own PhD had been through action research; evidence-based and research-informed practice. He had written a number of education books, all including case studies of practice in real settings. Through his teaching and as a teacher educator, he had developed his understanding of the importance to professionals of reflection and reflexivity - being self critical and honest with yourself and recognising how who you are changes what happens around you and how others behave.
Later in his career, he had come to appreciate that successful leadership has to be authentic, distributed and person-centred. He stressed that to him 'leadership' was a more important concept than 'leaders' - he believes everyone in an organisation has the potential and should be given opportunities to contribute to leadership capacity.
Ron emphasised his belief in the benefits of collaboration and partnership based on various experiences in his career, for example in an advisory teacher team, in the Education Department (as part of the then S Block 'family' of academic and professional support staff) and more recently in the context of the Cabot Learning Federation.
He returned to leadership and organisations and said we should, perhaps, recognise more often the importance of people over processes. He said his aim had always been to empower others through reward and positive feedback. In that context, he thanked colleagues who had written in support of his National Diversity Champion nomination last year and said how moving and motivating he had found that public feedback.
Ron talked about the importance of significant others in our lives, both professional and personal and thanked those in the room and those unable to be here who had made unique and highly valued contributions to his time at UWE.
He concluded by reflecting on UWE's recent E&D successes and ongoing issues that remain work in progress …
The successes he celebrated included:
• Our ongoing commitments to activities related to widening participation and partnerships with schools in disadvantaged areas;
• The central and secure place of EDI in the UWE strategy, the successful Single Equality Scheme and senior staff commitment;
• The range and impact of staff and student networks;
• Stonewall Workplace index success;
• Athena SWAN success;
• The developing Disability Service for staff;
• Two Ticks accreditation;
• Time to Change commitment;
• Race Equality Charter Mark application;
• The outstanding contribution of HR and the E&D Unit.
Ongoing challenges for UWE that Ron recognised included:
• Further improving the diversity of staff;
• Maintaining inclusivity as a strategic goal, which includes promoting its benefits;
• Continue to probe the 'lived experience of staff' to ensure it is positive for all;
• Celebrate successes and promote role models;
• Find smart ways of measuring the impact of EDI work against the UWE Strategic Plan;
• Continue to build leadership capacity for the agenda;
• Foster more joint working (for example with unions and networks) and partnership with other organisations;
• Join things up to ensure efficacy, efficiency and maximising benefits;
• Develop efficient and constructive approaches to equality analysis;
• Ensure EDI doesn't suffer in the context of further inevitable change and uncertainty in the HE sector.
Ron finished by thanking colleagues for the support and friendship he had been given. He wished all well in continuing to make UWE the special place that it is and furthering the cause of equality, diversity and inclusivity.

A day in the life of.... the Equality and Diversity Forum

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A well-attended Equality and Diversity Forum (‘EDF’) took place yesterday. As UWE’s diversity champion, I chaired this in the absence of Vice Chancellor Steve West, who is the usual chair.

For those who might not be familiar with it, the Forum comprises student representatives, staff members from the diverse staff networks, trade unions’ equality representatives and key managers. We meet quarterly to discuss E&D related matters that are relevant to all these stakeholder and their constituencies.

Yesterday, the Forum was updated on lots of valuable markers of our collective progress towards the University’s inclusivity goal. These included:

• UWE’s success with Stonewall on LGB equality, where we ranked 11th this year in the Top 100 Employers’ Workplace Index and top university;
• A positive visit and assessment regarding our attempt to gain Two Ticks (positive about disabled people) accreditation;
• Progress in our pursuit in 2016 of the Race Equality Charter Mark; and
• The identification of a number of senior colleagues as diversity champions supporting specific protected characteristics (more news on this in a later blog).

Staff and student reps shared issues that they were facing, including ongoing issues for staff of time to commit to staff networks, support for these networks from the E&D unit, given its current work plan, and issues linked to the promotion of the compulsory ‘E&D Essentials’ online learning module.

Scarlett Oliver, UWESU’s VP for Comms and Welfare, updated the meeting on SU developments, especially the important anti-abuse campaign.

The meeting had a fascinating and informative input from a team from FBL working on the new building and related E&D issues. There was then a small group discussion led by Scarlett and  Nicky Bolt and Sue McKay, from the Student Disability Service, about changes to the disabled student allowance and hardship funds.

We then heard from Shona Flanagan, a hearing-impaired third year fine art student based at Bower Ashton, who shared her personal experiences as a UWE student. This was powerful testimony and helped us all understand the challenges faced by Shona and others like her. Shona is the president of the National Deaf Students’ Association and is a great role model and champion for others.

Finally the Forum heard about upcoming E&D events at UWE and the local area. To find details, go to the UWE website, then to ‘News and Events’ > ‘What’s On’ and follow the link to ‘Events by Category’  and then select ‘Equality and Diversity’.

I would like to thank all who attended EDF for their ongoing commitment to the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda.

Professor Ron Ritchie
Pro Vice-Chancellor
Partnerships, Diversity and Civic Engagement


Holocaust Memorial Day

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The following piece is a personal reflection written by Madge Dresser Associate Professor in Social & Cultural British History at UWE Bristol:

Holocaust Fatigue?

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. It was originally established to commemorate the Nazi genocide where 2/3rds of all Jews in Europe were exterminated along with many Poles, Romani, homosexuals, disabled people and political dissidents in the name of racial purity. But today Holocaust Memorial Day also serves to honour the memory of those millions affected by the subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. 

The lessons we choose to learn from this day vary according to our contemporary concerns. For me the lessons are two-fold. The first is that all forms of racial, religious and ethnic discrimination can all too easily slide into genocidal violence. Today’s racial bullying can set the scene for tomorrow’s persecution as the travelling exhibition “Anne Frank and me” vividly demonstrates to today’s generation of school children.

The second is that our willingness to remember unpalatable truths is influenced by, and sometimes distorted to serve, contemporary political ends. As the last survivors of the Nazi Holocaust die off, the event itself fades into a more emotionally distanced historical memory and is affected by the present day conflict between Israel and Palestine.  Holocaust denial is rife in the international blogosphere and linked to the escalating violence the Middle East. Outrage over the recent killing by the Israeli Defence Force of civilians in Gaza has led to the widespread equation in the social media  of their deaths with the Nazi genocide. A recent poll this year found that one in eight Britons surveyed believe that Jewish people unduly use the Holocaust as a means of gaining sympathy.

Today is also the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. Not everyone can visit the vast site at Birkenau as I recently did. It was only when I went there that I began to get any real sense of the sheer scale of the atrocity which had taken place there. Remembering is a complicated business. These anniversaries remind us that we need to preserve the factual integrity of the past in order to do justice to all victims of genocidal violence, past and present.

Updates from Equality Challenge Unit - December 2014

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The Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) works to support equality and diversity in Higher Education. They produce guidance and resources to promote understanding and best practice.

1. Sign up for the ECU monthly newsletter

You can find out more about the ECU by subscribing to their newsletter: scroll to the bottom of their website and enter your email address.

2. Become a Charter Mark panellist

The ECU is looking for people to help assess applications to both Athena SWAN and the Race Equality Charter Mark. This is an interesting opportunity to further develop your understanding of equalities issues while providing constructive feedback to other Institutions. Panellists will need to read 4-6 applications in advance and attend a panel in London for one day. The ECU pay travel expenses and provide lunch. Online training is provided for panellists. Please visit the ECU website to sign up.

3. Athena SWAN expansion

Athena SWAN is expanding to accept applications from arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law departments from November 2015. The expanded Charter will also use a broader definition of gender, examining support for transgender staff and investigating any areas where there are systemic barriers to male progression.

Looking back over 2014: the Equality and Diversity Unit

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As the year comes to an end, the Equality and Diversity Unit wants to share some of our reflections over 2014 with you. First of all we want to thank you all who worked with us in making the Inclusive Univesity real for our students and staff in a number of different ways. Without your support and commitment, we couldn't have achieved none of the below listed.

A year in which the University continued to extend its commitment to E&D and inclusivity: 

  • Equality training made mandatory to ensure all have the same baseline of knowledge and awareness
  • New policies released to support this agenda including a Faith and Belief Policy and revised policy on reasonable adjustments
  • No Bystanders campaign
  • Becoming a Time to Change employer
  • Embarking on the Race Equality Charter Mark
  • Conference in July on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion with people from all phases of education from across Bristol
  • Also in July, UWE sponsorship of PRIDE
  • Disability Working Group recommendations taken on board and ongoing plans for a support service for disabled staff
  • Equality Management Group and Equality Diversity Forum ongoing work demonstrate ongoing commitment
  • Work by all of us to embed E&D where we work

Recognition for specific achievement in the E&D arena

  • Stonewall Workplace Index great news
  • Athena Swan achievement of Department of Nursing and Midwifery and Department of Allied Health Professions in November
  • Two Ticks – positive about disability – symbol commitments achieved and beginning to use from 2015

Behavioural/culture change activities        

  • Diversity mentoring exchange
  • Striving to embed E&D principles in training courses as well as offering E&D related courses
  • Supporting International Women’s Day, LGBT History month, Black History Month, and working to make them more visible to all
  • Making the language we use including the term inclusion (from the 2020 Strategy) a core part of what we talk about in all the meetings we attend and briefings we give
  • Welcome Fair  presentation slot and info table
  • Working with Student Union and others on Safe Spaces and hate incident reporting
  • Responding to queries from people (staff and students)

IT Services and creating an inclusive working environment

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In October ITS staff completed an interactive E&D questionnaire session as part of a series of ITS Transformation workshops to gauge how inclusive they felt the ITS working environment was and their knowledge and confidence of procedures to escalate E&D issues.  Work is underway to use this information to ensure the future structure and working practices of ITS are inclusive for all and that particular groups are not disadvantaged.

Following on from the ITS Transformation workshops 11 members of staff have come forward willing to form an ITS E&D forum to strengthen consultation on E&D issues affecting staff and to proactively assist in making the department more inclusive.  Work is underway to establish the more detailed terms of reference for this forum and to encourage more staff working outside of the main ITS building to get involved.

Seven staff development training sessions on LGBT awareness have taken place during September, October and November 2014 and overall there has been a positive feedback from ITS staff.

·         117 members of staff have taken part in the training which equates to 80% of staff in ITS.
·         61 members of staff who took part in the training have completed the training evaluation form about session design and content.
·         98% of staff indicated that they intend to use what they learnt on the course in the workplace.
·         83% of staff felt that the training would support their personal development.

Course feedback:
"The course content was entirely relevant"
"A very interesting and thought provoking course"

(Contribution by Rayhana Rahman, IT services)

If any staff is interested in rolling out the same training for your area, please get in touch with the Equality and Diversity Unit.


LGBT: Looking ahead to 2015

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Thank you to all staff who’ve been involved in LGBT equality work in the past year. Some of our highlights are: 

UWE has entered the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index under Stonewall’s new more stringent criteria for 2015 and will receive a new ranking in January.

Looking forward, UWE will not be entering the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index for 2016 in order to concentrate our resources on following up the recent advice and steer given to us by Stonewall. Our relationship with Stonewall will continue: we will maintain our status as Stonewall Diversity Champions and will have access to Stonewall advice and training programmes. Our relationship with Stonewall remains extremely beneficial: they continue to provide valuable advice on furthering LGBT inclusive practices at UWE. Our LGBT Action Group will continue work to address gaps and to help make the Inclusive University a reality for all staff and students.

Ron Ritchie, UWE’s Diversity Champion, acknowledges that there is more to do in this area to ensure significant and lasting culture change. We are pleased that sponsorship for Pride 2015 has been confirmed and that UWE is supporting four LGBT Allies to receive Stonewall Allies training in 2014/15. We look forward to continuing work to improve the lived experience of LGBT staff and students at UWE in 2015.