#NeverOK

#NeverOK creating a culture change on campus

 

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.

 

Hertfordshire Students' Union is committed to our #NeverOk campaign, which focuses on ensuring that our students are safe, and can access appropriate support when needed. The campaign has two main strands: our commitment to you, and your commitment to us.

 

OUR COMMITTMENT TO YOU

We commit to having a zero-tolerance approach to any forms of discrimination, harassment or hate crimes within our membership, services and venues. We will not tolerate anything less than a safe and respectful environment for our staff and students.

YOUR COMMITMENT TO US

You commit, as members of the Students’ Union, to treat staff, students, guests and visitors with respect and dignity.

 

THE CONTEXT
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.  
 
It is important to note that these issues are intersectional. A recent study found that almost half of trans individuals had experienced harassment in the last year due to being transgender. Black women and bisexual women are at higher risk of experiencing sexual violence. Anti-Asian hate crimes rose by 21% in the UK during the pandemic. We at Herts SU want our staff and students of any gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion or disability status to be able to feel safe on campus.
 
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.
 
ZERO-TOLERANCE
The following consequences will be taken if you have been found to breach our promise to zero-tolerance. All complaints will be thoroughly investigated, and outcomes will be in line with our Equality and Diversity Policy and Complaints Procedure. 

 

  1. 1. Your Students’ Union membership will be revoked. This includes removal off all privileges of membership of the Union. 
  1.  2. Removal from student leader positions e.g. School Community Organisers, Student Representatives, Network Leads, Society Committees, Buddy’s etc. 
  1.  3. Ban of membership within societies, networks etc. You will no longer be able to take part in any activity within these groups, included but not limited to events, meetings, elections, and voting. 
  1. 4. Removing all rights to running and voting in SU main elections. 
  1.  5. Ban from all SU events, including the day-time activities and Forum events. 

 

The Dean of Students’ Office can also impose sanctions, as can the police, depending on the offence. 

 
SUPPORT SERVICES
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.
 
 
DEFINITIONS

Harassment: defined by the university as any unwanted conduct, which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person. 

Assault: is the act of inflicting or threatening to inflict physical harm or unwanted physical contact.  

Sexual violence: is any unwanted sexual act regardless of relationship to the other person.  

Racism:  is the act of discrimination or prejudice by anyone or group of people, based on their race or ethnic background.  

Victimisation: is act of treating others unfairly as a result of making a complaint around discrimination or support others who have encountered discrimination. 

Discrimination: is any unjust treatment of a person because of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage & civil partnership, pregnancy & maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.  

Hate crime: is any form of criminal offence that is aimed towards a person's race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.