UWE Bristol’s Speak Up campaign hosts successful panel event for International Day to end violence against women

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On 26th November 2018, a panel discussion was held as part of UWE Bristol’s SpeakUp campaign, which aims to create an inclusive campus where diversity is celebrated, antisocial attitudes and behaviours are challenged and any type of harassment, assault and discrimination aren’t acceptable. In this guest post, Student Inclusivity Project Coordinator Sarah Dickinson tells us more about it.

The Speak Up campaign

There has been a rise in awareness about issues regarding sexual violence and harassment in newspapers, within politics and the film industry. For example the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements and the Everyday sexism Project.

Universities UK, which oversees procedures in universities in the United Kingdom, produced a report called ‘Changing the Culture’ in 2016 with a call for universities in the HE sector to put in place policies and practices that will ensure safety of all students and address sexual misconduct, hate crime and harassment affecting UK university students. HEFCE (now Office for Students) offered £2.45 million funding for 64 institutions for Safe Guarding Students and £1.8 million to tackle hate crime and online harassment. UWE won both funding bids.

UWE Bristol worked in focus groups with students who described the social norms that most affected their day to day life:

  1. Unwanted sexual touching and groping
  2. Sexual consent
  3. Inappropriate use of social media
  4. Domestic abuse
  5. Initiation and humiliation ceremonies

Video animations were created around these topics and a Bystander Programme was developed as part of the Speak Up campaign. The Bystander programme was developed as a 2 hour session adapted from the Intervention Initiative, originally 8 hours, created at UWE.

The SpeakUp campaign was introduced in September 2018 to help UWE Bristol students speak up and report unacceptable behaviour such as harassment, discrimination and violence. We want to create an inclusive campus where diversity is celebrated, antisocial attitudes and behaviours are challenged and any type of harassment, assault and discrimination aren’t acceptable. We want students to SpeakUp if they see or hear something that’s not right, and be an active bystander. The campaign has been created collaboratively between students, staff at the University, the Students’ Union at UWE and our partners: SARI (Stand Against Racism & Inequality), Bristol Zero Tolerance, and SARSAS (Somerset & Avon Rape & Sexual Abuse Support).

Panel discussion: SpeakUp against violence and abuse

We ran the event to launch the Speak Up campaign and to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25th November) by having conversations around violence with students and staff.

Key objectives were to:

  • To increase the awareness of sexual violence and violence against women
  • To launch the Speak Up campaign and commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
  • To have conversations with students and staff around sexual violence and harassment and to collect feedback on the video animations.

The event was chaired by Professor Jane Harrington, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at UWE Bristol. Jane co-chairs the Joint Forum Against Sexual Violence and Harassment with Professor Judith Squires, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Bristol. The forum share resources and best practice in addressing and tackling sexual violence and harassment within student populations and higher education institutions.

Panel members

Augusta Chidinma Nnajiofor, VP Community and Welfare and third-year student in Business Management with Economics. Augusta represents the student voice on welfare and community related issues and is working towards a truly inclusive and engaging community for all.

Dr Helen Bovill, Associate Head of Department Research, Department of Education and Childhood and Principal Academic Investigator for the HEFCE Catalyst Fund: Inclusive Campus. Social Norms marketing campaign, resulting in SpeakUp at UWE. Her principal research and teaching interests lie in the field of gendered spaces within university and particularly in understanding gender based violence and university initiatives and practices aimed at countering this culture.

Professor Kieran McCartan, Professor Sociology & Criminology. Kieran is the leader of the Social Science Research Group (2013 – ongoing) and joint coordinator of the Sexual Violence Research Network (2014 – ongoing) at UWE. Professor McCartan has a track record of public, academic and professional engagement on criminological issues, including the origins and causes of sex offending, and societal responses to sex offenders. He has developed a wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary network around sex offender management and reintegration.

Dr Finn Mackay. Her area of research is contemporary British feminism and feminist activism. She is particularly interested in changes in this social movement from the Second Wave of the 1970s and 1980s to the present day, having been involved in feminist activism for twenty years, founding the London Feminist Network and revived London Reclaim the Night in 2004. Prior to returning to academia, her professional background was in education and youth work, where she worked on domestic violence prevention and anti-bullying.

Kate Peters, Deputy Head of Accommodation. Accommodation services provide support services and resources to students experiencing independent living whilst at university and help them settle in. Accommodation work closely with the university to keep the students safe and work with the Student Policy team to help protect victims during the reporting process where appropriate, such as providing temporary accommodation.

Mr Chris Green OBE – Founder & President of White Ribbon UK. Christopher Steven Green OBE is Executive Director of the White Ribbon Campaign (UK) He was previously full-time lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University In 2007 he was awarded “Ultimate Man of the Year” by Cosmopolitan for his work with White Ribbon Campaign. He has addressed the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Inter Parliamentary Union, the Oxford Union and many conferences on the theme of Engaging Men in Tackling Violence against Women. He is author of the series of 12 leaflets “What the White Ribbon Campaign says”, available for download from the WRC website.

Key themes which arose were:

  • Protecting victims during the reporting process
  • Having safe spaces on and off campus
  • There should be focus on prevention of perpetrators, as well as support for victims

The event was a great success. We engaged staff and students on the Speak Up Campaign. It highlighted all the efforts and initiatives (policies and practice) being put in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of UWE students and staff.

There were 54 attendees:  46 staff / 8 students (of those, 13 staff / 7 students had not engaged with Speak Up previously).

Next steps

As part of the Speak Up campaign, the Bystander programme was developed by Helen Bovill as a 2 hour session adapted from the Intervention Initiative, originally 8 hours, created at UWE. It has been piloted this term by Helen Bovill in Education and Finn Mackay and Kieran McCartan in Sociology and Criminology. We are now looking at the next steps for rolling out the Bystander training further to more students and are working closely with academics and the Students Union at UWE on this.

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