There have been 463 sex attacks reported at Oxford in the last two years
It’s a problem that only seems to be getting worse, and yes it does apply to you
I don’t think anyone would try and deny that sexual harassment and assault is a growing problem in universities across the country, so why then is there such a reluctance to deal with the problem? A taboo still exists around the topic of sexual consent, whilst the problem of sexual violence gets even worse. Studies of Britain’s universities show that there were 463 sex attack reported by female students over the last two years. It clearly isn’t an issue that’s going to go away on its own.
Just this week, a student was sexually assaulted at a night for Brookes students at the O2 Academy, on Cowley Road. These incidents and statistics are shocking in themselves, but even then they are a massive underestimate of the actual amount. We can only guess at how many more attacks happen that are never reported. The statistics for Oxford came out joint first with the most reports or rape and sexual assault; 36 in the last two years.
So why is it that the problem is so particularly bad at Oxford? Realistically, everyone knows someone, or themselves have experienced some form of sexual harassment. ‘Lad culture’ has found a place to thrive, with universities allowing this behaviour to grow. But the problem doesn’t end here. Our entire culture engrains this acceptance of sexualising women; music, films, the workplace are all guilty of it. Until this cycle is broken the problem is only going to keep getting worse.
Oxford is trying to help. There are sexual consent workshops run in some colleges, but this isn’t enough. Of the 533 respondents to our survey, only 31 per cent them had ever attended a workshop and of these, and two per cent had walked out of the workshop. There is a strong argument of making these workshops compulsory – people need to be able to talk about sexual consent without feeling uncomfortable. Of the 533 people, 22 per cent thought that these workshops are patronising. But realistically, with the reputation Oxford has as one of the worst universities for sexual assault, clearly people don’t know enough about sexual consent.
The problem goes so much further than just Oxford’s reputation. At the moment, Oxford is sending people out into the world who don’t even know the basest levels of respect. As a leading centre for intellectual education, can the moral side of education really be so grossly neglected? Consent workshops may not be the way forward, but something needs to be done to counter the frighteningly high levels of sexual assault and harassment not only at university, but in society in general.