Beds SU is supporting the student voice to tackle sexual abuse

Published by Beds SU

A conversation focused on tackling sexual assault within education settings has recently gained national attention with commitments from professionals across the education, including the Office for Students sector setting out expectations and plans to tackle the situation.

You may already be aware of this debate which is being led by the organisation Everyone’s Invited and you may have questions as to what your SU and university plan to do to support the call for change so we wanted to share what we’ve done so far and what our plans are going forward.

What are we doing?

Beds SU is always looking at ways it can support the student community here at the University on issues both from an institute perspective and on a national level, of which this matter sits. We therefore believe that engaging the University now on how we can ensure we have appropriate measures in place to support our students is essential in delivering a positive way forward in how we tackle instances of sexual abuse. 

On 8th June 2021, we wrote to the Vice-chancellor of the University setting out nine measures we would like them to consider, to ensure the processes in place for tackling such instances are appropriate and effective. 

We want to work together with the university and all relevant stakeholders to help make sure our students are protected from experiencing sexual assault, making all our spaces safe for all students and giving students the knowledge of where to go and how to report cases and the confidence to come forward and talk about their experience.

It is worth making it clear we are NOT doing this in response to any specific incidences at the University of Bedfordshire (UoB), but given the number of testimonials submitted to spaces such as Everyone’s Invited in recent months, we feel it is important to get the University to review current measures and amend as required. 

What do we want to change?

In our letter, we have set our goals, objectives, and expectations which we feel need to be implemented to benefit students. These include:

  • The introduction of mandatory consent training for students and a consent test which must be successfully completed before registration is complete.
  • The university to make a visible and ongoing commitment to tackling sexual abuse by reviewing and updating all its policies and procedures in a transparent and collaborative way. 
  • UoB to commit to taking every report of sexual assault on campus credibly and seriously and carry out an investigation into every report – even if the reporter or alleged perpetrator has left the university.
  • UoB to end the use of non-disclosure agreements when resolving investigations into sexual assault. 

This is not all we have asked the university to consider, just a summary of some of the main points.

There is help on hand if you need it

If during your time at university you experience or witness a sexual assault please know there are teams in place to support you.  You can reach out to the University’s Support and Report facility on the main website or reach out to the SU’s team of dedicated advisors.

How to add your voice to the conversation

You can also help us by contacting us and telling us what you think we should do, sharing you experience through the Everyone’s Involved website, help us engage our students through social media, talking to one of your reps or asking for support from the university or Beds SU.