Liverpool student survey reveals nearly 90 per cent of students faced sexual harassment
Students from both University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores partook in the survey
A survey led by Liverpool students investigating sexual harassment and assault revealed that nearly 90 per cent of students have faced at least one form of abuse.
The initial findings from the survey found that 50 per cent of student incidents of sexual assault occurred in university bars or clubs.
The survey was created from 609 student responses from four UK universities, including University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool Echo reports.
Carried out in collaboration with student leaders from seven UK universities and Empowered Campus, a project run by not-for-profit organisation Love & Power, the survey worked to address sexual abuse and gender-based violence in higher education institutions.
Empowered Campus also works with students, workers, academics and, university management to deliver prevention and response strategies to incidents of sexual harassment and violence.
The survey further found that on top of the 50 per cent of incidents occurring in university clubs and bars, only 14 per cent of sexual assault cases reached university support, and 40 per cent of responders had no understanding of what to expect from a university sexual misconduct investigation.
With the complete report is due to be released in December, student leaders from different universities were tasked with creating research questions and collecting responses via student groups and social media.
President of the University of Liverpool’s Feminist Society, Armiss Rezaie, spoke of the importance of student groups, believing that these groups are often the first place students turn to with concerns, as opposed to university support services.
Speaking to The Echo, Armiss said: ““I do think there needs to be a lot more focus on, for example, posters [about support services] making it really clear cut and not convoluting it and confusing people. I think that’s often what seems to happen – it’s like buried at the bottom of a website page, which you can’t find. I think having a clear number on the back of, for example, bathroom doors or something like that is a good idea.”
She explained how the change from a student-teacher relationship to a student-professor relationship can be more isolating, and added that university staff could be doing more: “I also think academic advisors and personal tutors could be doing more if they were adequately trained, which is something a lot of us are campaigning for.”
Armiss also spoke of the university needing to be more upfront with their policies on sexual harassment and make it clearer that it isn’t tolerated: “I do think they have the right attitude, but I think a lot of it is behind the scenes and it needs to be more spoken about and destigmatised and kind of brought to the centre of conversations.”
Agreeing with Armiss, president of the Politics Society at UOL, Natasha Harshone-Evans, agreed. She spoke of the need to change relationships between students and lecturers in order to make them feel more confident in speaking about sexual assaults: “I think that there’s a massive disparity between professors, lecturers and students and it’s very much a number on a page is how I think a lot of people perceive it.
“We’ve all got our student ID numbers, put that in a database and it comes up with everything, but the lecturers don’t know anything about you.
“Sometimes they don’t even know your face – they couldn’t pick you out of a crowd and say that you’re in that lecture with them. I definitely think that academic advisors, support staff could definitely be more adequately trained. I think that that would definitely make a difference on kind of how it all pans out really.”
Another student and president of the Survivors Society at LJMU, Martha, added that staff at UK universities are often unaware of procedures, meaning that support for victims of sexual assault is often not easily accessible. Citing the statistic that 58 per cent of student sexual assault survivors were assaulted by another student at their university, she called for more consent training at JMU and other UK universities.
“The statistic of 50 percent of student sexual assault survivors being assaulted by another peer or another student is shocking. When you enter university, there’s nothing like PSHE or social education.
“I do think that our staff lack the knowledge of how to support students and where to send their students if they don’t know [what to do]. That has also failed in our university.”
University of Liverpool spokesperson told The Echo: “We operate a zero-tolerance policy in relation to sexual assault and harassment and we are committed to providing a safe environment for all members of our campus community through a wide range of support channels. We work hard to ensure campus is a safe space and will carefully consider the findings of this report, when we receive it.
“We engage closely with students in a number of ways to ensure our services remain student-centred and regularly make improvements based on student feedback.
“Our report and support platform enables students and staff to request support if they have been affected by issues relating to sexual misconduct, bullying, harassment or hate crime and offers guidance. We have a team of wellbeing practitioners who support students when they initially report any form of sexual assault and harassment as well as specially trained trauma counsellors who work with students who are survivors of sexual abuse.
“We also have an on campus police officer and work closely with Merseyside Police in tackling sexual violence. We have expanded our student conduct team to support additional investigations and to increase our preventative work. We take a trauma-informed approach to investigating reports of sexual violence and our student conduct panel members, who make decisions about sexual violence cases following investigations, have received trauma-informed training. We also offer Responding to Sexual Violence Training to staff across the University.
“We encourage students to complete our online Consent Matters training and also work closely with our Guild of Students who will deliver bystander intervention training to over 2,600 students this year and who also provide a free, confidential and independent advice service available for students throughout their university experience.”
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