Following on from the University of Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Strathclyde has now launched its own sexual violence prevention scheme in association with Rape Crisis Scotland.
The charity, in collaboration with the University and the Scottish Government, will be hosting training sessions for teaching staff in the event that they are approached by a student who has been sexually harassed. Manager of Rape Crisis Scotland, Isabelle Kerr, highlighted the importance of training staff “who could be the first response”.
Workshops will also be held for students, with around 25 having already completed courses in how to respond and intervene if they witness an instance of sexual violence. Workshops are also set to include lessons on consent in order to tackle the problem at its core.
The scheme is set to begin after various surveys suggest that sexual violence is on the rise in university campuses across Scotland.
A recent survey by the National Union of Students (NUS) found that one in five students experience some form of sexual violence on campus – ranging from “unwanted sexual contact” to rape. The survey also reported that 68% of female students had experienced verbal or physical harassment on campus.
Additionally, Police Scotland stated last year that there had been a 6.8% rise in the number of reported sex offences in the last 12 months – however whether this suggests a rise in the number of actual sex crimes or rather in the willingness of people to come forward is unclear.
The Vice President for Diversity at Strathclyde’s student union, Simran Kaur, welcomed the scheme, stating: “After the findings of the NUS’ Hidden Marks report which said that ‘one in seven survey respondents has experienced a serious physical or sexual assault during their time as a student’, it is really important that our Universities are finally able to tackle the problem.
“I believe the course will be vital in educating students about this issue and will equip people with the tools to make a stand against sexual violence when it happens or when they see it.”