Bristol Uni part of joint pledge to tackle sexual violence and harassment

‘Today, we are sending a clear message that sexual violence and harassment is simply not acceptable’

Bristol University is among four universities in the west of England that have pledged to take a collective approach to tackling sexual violence and harassment.

The “joint commitment to our students on sexual violence and harassment” was signed on 5th February, the beginning of Sexual Violence Awareness Week, by Vice-Chancellor Evelyn Welch and Bristol SU, along with the Vice-Chancellors and Students’ Unions from the universities of Bath, Bath Spa, and UWE. 

This “joint commitment” sets out ten ways in which the universities are committing to building safer environments on campus and making sure that students affected by sexual violence or harassment are supported. You can read the ways they are committing to do this here. 

Included in the 10-point plan are commitments to educate students on consent, provide clear channels to report inappropriate behaviour and support students who want to report sexual violence or harassment.

The plan also highlights the need for an intersectional approach to tackling sexual violence, understanding certain groups more at risk of sexual violence.

Both students and staff may be supported through external organisations in both training and reporting.

In a joint statement, the universities and their students’ unions said:

“We believe that all students should feel safe at university, to reach their academic potential and fully immerse themselves in campus life.

“Today we are sending a clear message that sexual violence and harassment is simply not acceptable. It’s sometimes hard to talk about inappropriate behaviour and that’s why we’re bringing it out in the open. We also want to make clear to all our students that help and support is available.”

This comes after the “Girls Night In” campaign swept across the country in October 2021 after a wave of spiking incidents sparked outrage amongst students.

The campaign involved boycotting nightclubs across Bristol, demanding a safer environment after a report by Bristol SU in 2021 found that nearly half of Bristol Uni students have been sexually harassed, with most occurrences going unreported. 

A year on from this campaign, the “Reclaim the Night” march took place on 24th November 2022, demanding safer streets and an end to gender-based violence.

Despite these campaigns, Bristol Uni was criticised after an investigation by The Bristol Tab revealed two veterinary students at the university claimed they were dismissed by a senior lecturer when reporting they endured sexist and inappropriate behaviour while on farm placement. The university has since suspended the farm from its list of placements.

The new pledge ensures that any students affected by sexual violence “will be heard, listened to, and supported” by the University and Students’ Union.

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