University of Cambridge announces new reporting system for all students and staff

The system allows all University students and staff to report any inappropriate behaviour anonymously or formally

CN: Reporting of sexual and racial harassment 

Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Graham Virgo, announced the launch of a new University reporting system called “Report+Support” in an email to students today (17/05).

The email states that this system will give all University students and staff the option of reporting “inappropriate behaviour” anonymously or formally “through a single system”, as well as “identifying individuals involved, where the person reporting feels comfortable to do so.”

The system also “provides access” to “relevant College and University support services as well as those from local and national external organisations.”

The system itself is accessed by a link in the email and displays the option to “report anonymously” or “report with contact details.” Beneath there are links to finding support under the headings Bullying and harassment, Abusive behaviour, Sexual misconduct and sexual harassment and Whistleblowing.

Graham Virgo’s email describes that the reporting system has been created in response to calls from Tutors, student representatives, the University’s “anonymous reporting mechanism”, and several surveys, “including those targeted at better understanding racism in the University”, for a “simpler reporting process”, which includes “anonymous reporting where you could describe what had happened to you.”

Included in the email are details about how the system will work. Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor describes that “anonymous reports” will be “tracked, monitored and shared with senior staff in the relevant department or service if we can do so and maintain the author’s anonymity.”

He adds that those reports that are made using contact details will be received by OSCCA (the Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals) who will then contact the student by email to offer a meeting to “explain next steps” and answer any questions about the formal reporting procedure.

Graham Virgo also includes that if students “report behaviour about their college” then it will be “sent to the College’s Senior Tutor or another senior College member.”  He states that “college procedures and practices” will also remain in “operation” and that “in some cases will be the appropriate route for resolving issues.” Finally, the email discloses that “data and anonymous case studies will be published” to evidence “the difference that reporting makes to our community.”

The email promises support for those that have made a report, disclosing that “during an investigation, the University can take action to ensure the person reporting the behaviour can continue to study and feel safe”, which may include “preventing contact with the student or staff member they have reported.”

This comes after last year Trinity Hall was accused of “systematic procedural failures of the collegiate body” in the handling of complaints against several members of the College.

At the beginning of the email, the Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor describes that “we want the University of Cambridge to be a place where everyone can feel safe and thrive.” He adds that “abusive behaviour, discrimination, sexual misconduct and physical misconduct should have no place here”, emphasising that the system is for “all forms of inappropriate behaviour – big and small.”

This news comes after many calls from students, including the Student Union, to standardise the misconduct reporting systems across Cambridge Colleges.

Related articles recommended by this author:

Cambridge’s reporting procedure for sexual harassment is broken, and here’s how we can fix it 

• Meet Eva Carroll, the Cambridge student working with Our Streets Now to end Public Sexual Harassment

Silence is still compliance: There’s more to be done about racism in Cambridge 

Feature image credit: Bilyana Tomova