Further steps have been taken to improve the Student Safety on Campus programme at the University, in order to tackle the ongoing issues of sexual violence and hate crime.
The Student Union (SU) has recently brought the issues to light by launching their ‘Hate Crime Awareness Week’, and by continuing to promote their campaign #ConsentMatters.
The SU is motivated by a desire to encourage students to acknowledge the issue of consent and sexual violence, as well as seeking to prevent future cases, and support survivors of trauma. Development has been made in this area by introducing an online module on Moodle titled ‘Consent Matters’, focussing on bystander intervention and education on the meaning of consent.
[The aim is] to discuss ways in which we can create a set of values to foster a safer environment on campus.
In the launch video for the #WeGetConsent campaign, the SU stated that: “Recent NUS research shows that more than 1 in 4 UK students suffered unwanted sexual advances during their time at university.”
In addition to this, focus groups surrounding sexual violence and hate crime took place in University House towards the beginning of term, whilst ongoing Student Personal Safety Advice Sessions are now scheduled to take place in the Library every month.
The first session raised concerns around the subject of sexual violence such as the issue of gender, age and removing the stigma surrounding the issue.
The coordinator of these focus groups, Annunziata Videtta, says that these groups are welcome for all students and aim to discuss ways in which: “we can create a set of values to foster a safer environment on campus.”
[It was] previously thought the matter was an issue for security and the police, but I am glad they are looking at the emotional impact too.
In attempt to work with the wider community on the issue, Warwick’s SU invited Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC) to ask students what they think of their current promoted procedure.
Positive feedback was given surrounding CRASAC’s 24 hour confidential helpline in particular, whilst Postgraduate student Emma Johnson commented that they had previously thought the matter: “an issue of security and the police, but I am glad they are looking at the emotional impact too”.
The second half of the group sought to reiterate the events of the previous week, highlighting the SU’s ‘Hate Crime Awareness week’ event, as well as Warwickshire Police’s #CakeNotHate campaign, which aims to educate students on the prevention of such crimes and wellbeing facilities that are available on campus and in the county.
These facilities included drop-in sessions, in which both the Warwickshire police department and the Campus Security team spoke to students about breaking down the ‘reporting barrier’. The group also suggested the Student Union Advice Centre as a third-party hate crime reporting centre.
As a third focal point of the focus groups the Student Safety on Campus’s ‘Safer Routes’ campaign was discussed. The campaign is used by the SU to highlight routes which have been assessed by the police, Coventry City Council and the University with the safety of students in mind. They encourage students to take well-lit, busier paths in order to stay safe whilst walking around campus.
A one-pound Hopper bus is also available, which encourages students to take public transport instead of walking at later times in the night to prevent incidents.
The West Midlands Now app is also available for students who would like safety updates and alerts in the local area that highlight areas to avoid when an incident has recently occurred.