London universities step up fight against sexual abuse

NUS consent campaign

Earlier this year research conducted for The Telegraph revealed that one in three UK female students have been sexually assaulted or abused on university campuses.

“I don’t think it’s that surprising,” said Jamie Sweeney, VP Welfare & Community for King’s College Londons Student Union (KCLSU). “This is the reality for lots of students, women in particular, and so it is incredibly important to act to make sure our campuses are as safe as possible.”

KCLSU has responded to the figures by working with their university on a sexual consent and zero tolerance to sexual harassment campaign, which is being led by a King’s staff member and key members of the student body. The project will aim to improve harassment policies and reporting procedures on campus, as well as make them more accessible to students.

KCLSU is also in the process of producing a video that features students, staff and alumni pledging to take a stand against sexual harassment. The video will be shown to new KCL students during their induction.

Sweeney said: “We want to create a culture where sexual harassment isn’t tolerated anywhere within our university environment.”

Kingston University’s Feminist Society responded to the research by running a campaign with their local council called ‘That Was Rape’, addressing various forms of sexual harassment and challenging the culture of victim blaming.

Kingston also passed a motion for zero tolerance on sexual harassment and assault at their recent AGM last week on 10 February.

Speaking to London Student, NUS London’s Women Officer, Elaha Walizadeh, said: “Sexual harassment is very common across academic institutions, not just in the UK, but globally. With the rise in the culture of victim blaming, it has become a lot more common and culprits tend to get away quite easily.”

NUS Women’s Campaign launched the ‘I Heart Consent’ campaign last year in partnership with Sexpression UK. The campaign aims to “facilitate positive, informed and inclusive conversations and campaigns about in content in universities and colleges” and has now seen their consent policy adopted that a number of academic institutions across the country. Feminist societies and women’s networks are now able to run consent workshops and educate students about the importance of consent.

Walizadeh added: “Additionally, many universities now have a zero tolerance to sexual harassment policy. More universities and FE colleges have been adding to the list, which is a great achievement for all of us!”

What is your university doing to combat sexual violence on campus? Tweet us at @LondonStudent

Priyanka is Manager of the International Political Forum and studies Journalism with Human Rights at Kingston University. She is currently the Online Editor for Kingston University's River Newspaper and has been President of the Kingston University Journalism Society for three years. Additionally, Priyanka sat on the Youth Advisory Board for Index on Censorship and recently founded the Spread The Word Campaign. She blogs for Huffington Post and is the Human Rights Reporter for London Student.

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