“I’d be reluctant to… start putting a whole bunch of bureaucratic machinery in place for a problem that don’t exist or is marginal.” The challenges of addressing gender based violence in a campus context

  • Hill, K. (Speaker)
  • Melanie Crofts (Speaker)

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


The issue of sexual assault, harassment and violence on university campuses has been reported over recent years and months. In 2014 (building on a report from 2010), the National Union of Students issued a report “That’s what she said” which explored the impact of lad culture, sexism and harassment on campuses. In October 2016, Universities UK published their Taskforce Report “Changing the Culture” which examined the issues of violence against women, hate crime and harassment against students. The report concluded that universities are significant sites for action in this area urgent action was needed. Following the UUK’s Taskforce Report, HEFCE released £2.45 million from the Catalyst Fund to fund projects to address some of the issues which were identified in the UUK report. The UUK Report identified that Universities often did not have joined up policies and strategies for addressing issues of hate crime and sexual violence on campuses (p4). As a campus of Changemakers, inter-disciplinary researchers and support staff at University of Northampton decided to take action to address this significant and important issue. As one of only 60 institutions across the country whose bid was accepted, our ‘New Spaces: Safeguarding Students from Violence and Hate’ cross Faculty, collaborative project aimed to create vital partnerships in tackling sexual violence and hate crime on campus. The aims of the project were: •To develop existing and new institutional policies and strategies to support students in reporting harassment, sexual abuse, sexual violence and hate crime. •To develop a student led collaborative initiative to identify what currently happens when disclosures are made, what good practice exists and how existing practice can be enhanced. •To use the insights to produce a robust policy and recommendations for staff training for when disclosures take place. •To ensure that the frameworks and training packages developed are suitable for delivery at the university’s new urban campus. Staff and students were invited to attend focus groups to discuss the nature and extent of issues at the University of Northampton and what support was in place for students making disclosures. In addition, interviews were carried out with members of the senior management team at the University to elicit their perceptions of the extent of the problem and the nature of support services available. An additional stage of research used creative visual methods to allow students to create their own safe new campus space. The focus of this presentation will be on the findings of this first qualitative stage of the project, including the significance of safe spaces/places for those on campus. An overview of the potential impact this project will have on both staff and students when disclosures of sexual violence and harassment are made, as well as the impact of this data on institutional processes and support mechanisms will also be provided. A focus will be on the challenges of conducting work in this area, from staff and student researcher perspectives. Recommendations and implications for future work will also be provided.
Period30 May 2018
Event titleApproaches to Inequalities Conference, The University of Northampton
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionRegional