Let’s talk: sexual assault
Lifestyle editor Chloe Hill discusses RHUL's procedures for sexual assault and harassment.
Although often considered a taboo subject, sexual harassment and assault are sadly far more common than we would like to think. It’s an extremely upsetting topic to discuss, but part of some students university experiences nonetheless. Whereas most victims may not feel entirely comfortable discussing such a sensitive and personal topic, it’s necessary for us to discuss the procedures and support systems available in order to help those who have suffered, and hopefully, help to prevent it as best as we can.
I contacted Royal Holloway’s head of student wellbeing – Lee Fellows, to share with you all the procedures that the university has put in place to provide support for students, whilst trying to also prevent sexual assault and harassment from happening in the future.
One of the most important university bodies to always remember is The Student Advisory and Wellbeing Department, who can be found in Founder’s West 151. The team are here to offer advice, reassurance and counsel for anything you have experienced, along with guidelines of what steps to take next (such as Counselling or the GP – they have an abundance of relevant contacts to help) along with a trustworthy person to confide/release to, whether this involves yourself, or if you’re worried about somebody else. You will also be offered the decision to either remain in contact with the department or not. In either case, the department will respect your decision.
RHUL’s intranet outlines a lot of important information, these include the College Code of Practice on Personal Harassment, Informal Dispute Resolutions and Formal Proceedings. One of the most important things that students must remember is how they can keep control at all times and will only be expected to continue with the case whilst they are comfortable to do so. Whether a student wishes to follow the informal/formal route will be entirely dependent on the nature and severity of the case, and the student will be involved throughout.
It is also important to note that if you have experienced a distressing experience in the SU or one of its venues, the Venues Team and the SU Advice Centre are there to listen and review the case where appropriate. If you wish to voice any concerns about the conduct within university venues, the VP Welfare & Diversity will be happy to listen.
Between the 22ndand the 28thof January, the SU are hosting a One in Three week to offer support and promote student wellbeing across campus in all forms – such as a sexual assault myth-busting activity and a bystander intervention workshop. – Visit the SU site to see the full list of One in Three events.
“it is really important that students feel empowered and comfortable to report these issues to us but we do understand it is not always easy to do so. It is an area of massive importance to the Student Wellbeing Team”
– don’t hesitate to contact Lee Fellows if you have any further questions about this topic.