The terrible murder of Sarah Everard and the unacceptable persistence of all forms of gender-based violence has made us stop and reflect both personally on our own experiences and on what more we can do as individuals, but also on what more we must do in this country, in our society and in our University community. This raises many issues, but what is clear is that we must do more to confront and eradicate violence, harassment and assault of women in all its forms and that men have a vital role that they can and must play.
The Government has this week announced some ‘immediate steps’ in terms of new safety measures aimed at giving ‘further reassurance’ and improving the safety of women and girls in England and Wales. Women’s groups and public debate has also highlighted a wide range of actions that we should consider, and within our community, we have been receiving offers of support and ideas from staff and students about what more we can do. We are committed to listening and to putting all good suggested actions into effect as soon as possible. It is vital that we continue to build upon existing resources and support and that we do this through engagement with the Students’ Union leadership, with this year’s nominated Women’s Officers and the Women’s network and with community groups such as the One Essex Inclusivity Group. This partnership working is key. We will only succeed if we work together as a community.
We are committed to celebrating diversity and ensuring equality of opportunity for all. We have a University policy of zero tolerance to sexual violence, harassment, discrimination and hate crime. In terms of combating sexual violence, three years ago we started work on a plan and this has been ongoing. We have acknowledged that this is an issue at the University and, working in partnership with the Students’ Union, we have put in place actions to try to make a difference in as many ways as we can. We have run a #ItEndsNow campaign, worked to raise awareness of consent including implementing mandatory training, worked on preventing incidents from happening particularly on our campuses through bystander intervention training, re-launched the Harassment Advisory Network and provided training and support for advisers, put in place a range of safeguarding training resources for staff, and developed and implemented a Report + Support platform.
We want to take the opportunity today to signal the support that is available within the University and beyond for anyone who has experienced, or lived in fear of, sexual violence, harassment or assault.
Our Report + Support platform enables all staff, students and visitors to our campuses to report anonymously and to seek support from an adviser.
Further sources of support are available specifically in relation to: bullying and harassment, hate crime, relationship abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual violence.
Molly Purcell, our Students’ Union President and her fellow women leaders, have published a statement in support of women all over the world which includes signposting to further sources of advice and support.
The SU provides direct support through SU Advice at firstname.lastname@example.org and
The University through the Student Services Hub.
The University also provides guidance for staff to help students affected by sexual violence including links both internal and external sources of support.
We want to challenge ourselves to do more: women are still subject to violence and harassment and, as a community, we need to do more to combat misogyny and sexism. We would welcome any ideas and suggestions and would encourage colleagues to contribute through the existing networks and community groups and to email us through the email@example.com email address.