New changes clarify UofG position on sexual violence
Glasgow University’s Code of Student Conduct has been altered to explicitly prohibit sexual violence and abuse.
T he Code of Student Conduct previously listed “Behaving in a disorderly, threatening, offensive, indecent or violent manner or using threatening, offensive or indecent language (whether expressed orally, in writing, or electronically)” as an offense, but following a Council of Senate meeting on Thursday 2 June 2016 the Code of Student Conduct was changed to “Behaving in a disorderly, threatening, offensive, indecent or violent manner (including sexual violence or abuse)”.
Prior to the amendment, sexual violence and abuse was still a violation of the Code of Student Conduct and could be reported to the Council of Senate, under multiple points in 33.6 which states: “Misconduct means behaviour that falls short of the standard of behaviour expected of a student of the University” yet the added amendment avoids ambiguity
The Working Group on Preventing Sexual Offending, which is part of the framework for the Steering Group on Gender Based Violence, recommended the revision. The revision proposal submitted to the Council of Senate said: “This would be more supportive to victims of sexual violence considering bringing forward any allegations involving students”. Under “Equality Implications” in the proposed revision sheet, is it written: “The amendment to 33.6 is considered a positive step in supporting victims of sexual violence who are predominantly women.”
Erin Ross, Vice President of Student Support, told The Glasgow Guardian: “The prohibition of all violence towards students was always there in the Code, so in practice, rape and sexual assault were captured within that. Making it explicit encourages survivors to report sexual violence, especially for an area that is chronically underreported and traditionally hushed up. It says your University understands and condemns what happened to you and supports you to come forward. Importantly, the term “sexual violence” also covers more than just the physical, encompassing issues like harassment and use of language and images.”
The Glasgow Guardian asked Ross if she believes the changes are a step in the right direction for the University and if it should be doing more. Ross replied: “A zero-tolerance approach to sexual violence in policy is so crucial to embedding it in practice. The Gender-Based Violence Strategy Group shows that the University is committed to doing more and doing it at an institutional and a national level. I think with the prevention work that’s gaining momentum right now, the key areas to improve on campus are reporting and support mechanisms. If we want people to talk more about these issues and to disclose, there must be clear pathways and well-equipped people in place for survivors when they get there.”
The Student Representative Council is currently piloting sexual violence prevention training sessions in partnership with Rape Crisis Scotland and Glasgow Caledonian University: 25 Glasgow University student trainers have delivered sexual violence prevention training to over 400 students. Ross has said the feedback so far has been “incredibly positive”.