Nottingham ranks 2nd for student allegations of sexual harassment against members of staff

A new report says sexual harassment at our universities has reached ‘epidemic levels’

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In a new report by The Guardian, it has been revealed that sexual harassment has now reached ‘epidemic levels’ at UK universities.

This assessment comes after a Freedom of Information request was sent by The Guardian to 120 universities, which found that students made at least 169 such allegations against university staff from 2011-17 – and at least another 127 allegations about staff were made by fellow colleagues.

The report is damaging to the University of Nottingham as it ranked second in the findings, with 10 accusations having been made by students against staff over the last 5 years, following only after Oxford University which ranked first with 11 accusations.

A University of Nottingham spokesperson, appeared to play-down the findings, whilst reassuring students the figures date from years gone by. They told The Guardian: “There have been no such allegations from students, relating to university staff, in the past three years and less than 10 incidents in the two years prior to this. Similarly with regards [to] allegations of staff from staff there have been less than 10 allegations in the last five years. Clearly our range of initiatives and policies around this issue is helping to drive this message home.”

Speaking to The Guardian about the figures, Dr Ann Olivarius of the law firm McAllister Olivarius said:  “These numbers are shocking, but sadly, from our experience, are just the tip of the iceberg.

“Sexual harassment of students by staff members has reached epidemic levels in British universities. Most universities have no effective mechanism to stop staff from pressuring students into sexual relationships, and when it happens, any sort of disciplinary action is pretty much nonexistent. Those in charge are often colleagues who have many incentives not to intervene.

“Young women are often terrified about the consequences if they make a complaint about a staff member. So often, when they do, the university’s chief concern is to downplay any wrongdoing and protect its own reputation by keeping the whole thing quiet.

“There must be a ban on any sexual contact between university staff and all undergraduates, and between staff and graduates in the same field. The penalty for violating the no-contact rule should be swift termination with a public statement and a mandated report to a central UK registry.”

The report from The Guardian stems from a wider issue of sexual harrassment at UK universities, not specifically related to the staff. Earlier this year a babe special report found that half of female students say they’ve experienced sexual assault, with 51 per cent stating that it occurred while at university.