Less than half of Britain’s elite universities do not properly record allegations of rape, sexual assaults or sexual harassment, an investigation has revealed.
Seven of the 24 Russell Group universities record only “some”, while the same number admitted they do not “systematically” record the incidents.
A further one in five universities – Leeds, Liverpool, Cardiff, Manchester and King’s College – do not even have specific guidelines for students on how to report such allegations, a freedom of information request by the Guardian found.
The newspaper studied data from the past five years in order to compare strategies across the institutions, and found there was no standard system of reporting.
The news follows a campaign launched by Oxford University student Ione Wells, who wrote an open letter to her alleged sex attacker. The #NotGuilty initiative is aiming to encourage other responses regarding assault, victim blaming and community.
Last year, the National Union of Students (NUS) revealed one in four students had been subjected to unwelcome sexual advances, while 60% said they were not aware of any codes of conduct implemented by their university or students’ unions that prohibit or tackle sexual conversations, sexual comments, unwelcome sexual advances, group intimidation and verbal harassment.
In 2013, a report revealed half of students have experienced “prevailing sexism, laddism and a culture of harassment, with some even dropping out as a result.
“If men can’t grope women in clubs, they’re more likely to progress onto rape,” she was once told by a male student council officer.
Temple blamed universities for not taking sexism seriously enough, adding: “Because of the success of a lot of feminists, it’s become a lot acceptable to become openly sexist. But it hasn’t disappeared, it hasn’t gone away, it just manifests itself so it becomes a lot more covert and it exists under different guises and forms.”
The NUS’ women’s officer Susuana Antubam said: “When 60% of students say they are not aware of any university codes of conduct that prohibit or tackle sexual comments, advances, intimidation or harassment it is clear that universities must face up to this issue.”
Dr Wendy Piatt, director of the Russell Group, added: “Russell Group universities take the issue of any kind of harassment, abuse or violence against women extremely seriously indeed. Our institutions have robust policies and procedures in place to deal with these matters, because ensuring student safety and wellbeing is extremely important to us.”
Source: The Huffington Post UK