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TW: Facing harassment and assault on campus: “Come on, it’s Freshers’!”

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TW: Harassment, sexual harassment and sexual violence

As I awkwardly laughed off the unsolicited groping and crude chat up lines in the middle of the Copper Rooms, it suddenly hit me. I shouldn’t be awkwardly laughing and excusing this stranger’s behaviour. This was harassment and this was inappropriate.Unfortunately, this was not a one off event, and was not something that just happened during Fresher’s fortnight, but throughout my entire experience at University so far.

I’m not alone in experiencing this. The number of times I have got ‘the look’ from my friend as a random guy she has never met grabs her arse is getting past a joke. This isn’t just something that’s happening on nights out. I moved to Leamington this year and whilst waiting for the bus last week, before 10am, I was honked at 3 times and had vulgar slurs shouted at me out of a van window. To say I felt awkward is an understatement.

Harassment at University is something that seems to be ignored but it is something that is happening all too frequently and it is, without a doubt, a huge problem. Both males and females are being made to feel uncomfortable and often violated by these incidents, yet it seems that many just laugh it off. We have become so used to this behaviour that we seem to just accept it as the norm.

It suddenly hit me. I shouldn’t be awkwardly laughing and excusing this stranger’s behaviour

If I’m going to go out, I have to prepare myself to be touched without my consent. The frequency of such events has certainly had an impact on how much I go out this year. It seems that on a dance floor, people believe they have a right to other peoples’ bodies purely because they are there.

Because you wouldn’t go out just to have a good night with your friends, right? You wouldn’t be wearing that dress if you didn’t want to pull, right? Wrong. Sexual harassment at university is very real. Sexual harassment everywhere is very real and whilst we keep shrugging off this behavior and accepting it as the norm it will remain very real.

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