The University of Dundee distributed cacti to students at the freshers’ fair last week to remind them not to sexually harass and bully their peers.
Bearing the slogan “Don’t be a P****”, the plants were designed to raise awareness of the university’s Zero Tolerance policy on “sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying, threatening or intimidating behaviour”.
The Dundee University Students’ Association (DUSA) said that the policy was adopted “as a preventative measure against unacceptable behaviours”.
“Unwanted sexual comments” or “comments that can be deemed racist, sexist and disablist”, as well as “groping, pinching or smacking someone’s body”, are some of the behaviours prohibited under the policy.
Students who could recall three of the rules of the policy were given a Zero Tolerance cactus to remind them it in the future.
Dundee’s freshers’ idea follows a research last year, which suggested that sexual harassment at UK universities had reached “epidemic” levels with 160 reports of harassment against staff alone over five years.
DUSA’s Vice President of Student Welfare Joely Nicol said: “We want each cactus taken home to remind students every day that we are the safest nightclub in Dundee and that we have services and processes in place to help them with any issue they might face.”
She added: “As a group we have decided to carry the campaign on, and will be purchasing more cacti for future campaigns such as refreshers fair and Minds Matter month.
We want to make sure that our students feel safe and are able to speak up when unwanted behaviours are being practised or witnessed
– Sofia Skevofylaka
“There was a queue around our stall for students wanting to win one, which could be done through talking to us about how much they knew about it and remembering key points about the policy.”
DUSA President Sofia Skevofylaka echoed this on the union’s website, and said: “We want to make sure that our students feel safe and are able to speak up when unwanted behaviours are being practised or witnessed.
“Here at DUSA and the University, we don’t accept the normalisation of inappropriate behaviour.”
She also said that the union hopes to “expand the policy as it has been so well received by both students and staff”, and are looking to extend their Zero Tolerance policy to Dundee’s other university, Abertay.
A spokesman from the University of Dundee said: “It’s a cheeky, lighthearted way of raising awareness of a serious issue, and the Zero Tolerance policy that we’ve worked on with DUSA.”
In the UK, the University of Edinburgh also aimed to increase tolerance across campus this year by giving out pronoun badges printed with “he”, “she” or “they” during Welcome Week to avoid “misgendering”.