The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Lecture to discuss sexual violence on campus

Do Universities do enough to support victims of sexual violence? An upcoming free lecture hopes to answer just that

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A professor is to give a free public talk discussing sexual violence on University campuses in February.

The event will discuss how University staff and students can support victims of sexual violence.

The free lecture will be delivered by Professor Alison Phipps, co-author of two National Union of Students (NUS) reports which investigated ‘lad culture’ in UK universities and sexual harassment and assault.

Alison encouraged students to attend the event and told The Mancunion: “Sexual harassment and violence are not just individual issues, they are institutional and collective ones. Students have a powerful role to play in both supporting survivors in their communities and holding universities to account.

“The talk focuses on how the marketisation of universities interacts with gendered and other power relations. This both enables sexual harassment and violence to occur and means that institutions are highly likely to want to cover it up. I unpick these processes and suggest how we might resist them.

“This event is incredibly timely given that we’ve seen an outpouring of disclosure and solidarity around sexual harassment and violence, in universities and also in Westminster and Hollywood, recently. It feels as though we might be at a cultural and social moment in which constructive collective action might be possible.”

The lecture will take place on the 28th of February from 3 to 4:30 PM in the Rutherford Lecture Theatre of the Schuster Building at the University of Manchester.

Staff and students can register to get free tickets for the talk via Eventbrite.

Discussion points at the event will include levels of sexual assault reporting in universities, support available for victims of sexual assault and how to help students who have been assaulted, what to do about disclosure, lad party culture, and how to make people more aware of what’s happening on campus with regards to support and care programs.

The professor, who is a reader in Sociology at the University of Sussex and former a University of Manchester student, also praised the ‘Reclaim the Night’ march, which every year sees hundreds of students in Manchester take to the streets to campaign against sexual violence against women, street harassment, rape culture and victim blaming.

Reclaim the night

Photo: Luchia Houghton-Lloyd

Alison said: “I think anything which brings survivors and allies together is incredibly helpful. I also strongly support the aims of Reclaim the Night and I’ve heard that the Manchester event is both trans- and sex worker-inclusive, which is great given that these groups are at high risk of sexual harassment and abuse.

The University of Manchester told The Mancunion that it encouraged students to attend the talk.

Commenting on the support it currently gives to victims of sexual violence, a University spokesman said: “The University offers extensive support including through We Get It, which is a joint campaign organised by the University and the Students’ Union, which is part of our zero tolerance approach to any form of bullying, harassment, and discrimination.  Specifically, our Report and Support website has detailed information for staff, students and visitors to campus.

“In addition, the University has a network of trained Harassment Support Advisors (HSAs) who provide a confidential information service to students on these issues. They have in-depth knowledge of the policy and procedures and what support is available to both staff and students.

“The University Counselling Service is also available to support students and staff.”