You told us that safety and wellbeing were your top priorities.
Following a security review and analysing survey comments, we've set out our commitments to you.
Everyone deserves to feel safe at UH
Content warning: This statement and associated links and resources discuss topics such as sexual assault, harassment, racism, discrimination and hate crimes. Links to support services available to students can be found at the end of this statement.
At Hertfordshire Students’ Union our top priority is the safety and wellbeing of the students we represent. Everyone deserves to be able to access their education, socialise and live on campus free from fear of harassment, discrimination and hate crimes.
Unfortunately, research over the last decade has uncovered high levels of discrimination and harassment within Higher Education institutions. A BBC report in 2019 showed that reports of rape, sexual assault and harassment at UK Universities had trebled in three years. This is also an issue in wider society, with 20% of women and 4% of men having experienced some form of sexual assault. A recent investigation by Liberty found that hate crime reports in England and Wales have doubled in 5 years. At Herts, our recent research has shown that 43% of UH students have experienced harassment or discrimination on campus at least once.
We commit to changing that.
Hertfordshire Students' Union is committed to our #NeverOkay campaign, which will launch in the coming weeks and focuses on ensuring that our students are safe, and can access appropriate support when needed. We will train our staff and students to better understand and support victims of harassment and discrimination and to act when they see something unacceptable, implement a zero-tolerance policy within our membership, services and venues, and revoke membership and access to our services and spaces for anyone who is found to have breached our commitment to zero-tolerance to any forms of harassment or discrimination.
We commit to
- Providing training for all staff working in the Forum, including third-party contracted staff such as security staff, to ensure that they can better understand, respond to, and prevent sexual harassment and assault in our venues.
- Delivering Active Bystander Awareness training as part of our Student Leaders Development Programme this academic year, and to have this training as part of the mandatory induction training programme for all Student Leaders by the next academic year. This will prepare our Student Leaders to feel comfortable and empowered taking action when they witness harassing and discriminating behaviour.
- Training all our staff on Active Bystander Awareness training, Handling Disclosures training and Consent training starting the next academic year.
- Engaging the wider student population in the #NeverOk campaign, with the aim of increasing awareness of harassment, assault, sexual violence, victimisation, racism, discrimination and hate crimes and giving them the tools to report these incidents.
- Implementing structural change within the Union, by creating a zero-tolerance policy for our students and staff.
- To lobby within the University, locally, and nationally for increased safety, particularly for marginalised groups.
In 2020, an independent review of campus security, including the security in our nightclub the Forum, was undertaken. Following on from this, we have put the following measures in place to ensure the safety of our students and staff:
- Full risk assessment of all activity and fire evacuation strategy for the venue.
- Working with SIA security guards that are trained and experienced in operating student venues. We work closely with our security to ensure they are providing you with effective protection and we will challenge and deal with any behaviours drawn to our attention. We are also minimising the use of any student guards in the venue.
- Full CCTV coverage of the venue is in place on all floors and stairs wells, we have deployed body-worn cameras on guards in key areas to assist in our efforts to keep you safe.
- We are launching a new training programme for our staff and security – that includes the Ask for Angela scheme and drug awareness training to ensure staff and security are fully prepared for their roles.
- We provide medical support on nights out by a trained paramedic and on smaller nights by first aid trained staff.
- We are limiting the number of guests in the venue to ensure the venue is for students.
Any staff (including our security contractors) found to be behaving outside of what we would expect in line with the above will be subject to disciplinary action, which could include termination.
We would like to thank students for bringing issues of inappropriate behaviour to our attention and we can assure you that we fully commit to investigating them and acting swiftly if necessary.
If a student or guest has been found to breach our promise of zero-tolerance to harassment and discrimination, we reserve the right to revoke Students’ Union membership and remove individuals from our spaces and services, including the Forum. The Dean of Students’ Office can also impose sanctions, as can the police, depending on the offence.
We understand that these topics can be upsetting for many of our students. As a Union we commit to speaking about these issues openly and providing safe spaces for students to do the same.
If you need support, the University's Wellbeing Service can be accessed here, and the Students’ Union Advice Service can be found here if you would like to talk to someone. There is also the Speak Out service at the University, which allows you to anonymously report instances of harassment or discrimination and access confidential support.