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Report highlights issues of sexual violence at Stirling

The report revealed more than half of survey participants were survivors of sexual violence.

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A survey of 148 current and former staff and students at the university, has found that 53% had experienced sexual violence or harassment.

The report published by Reclaim Stirling has shown that the prevalence of sexual violence within the university is “high.”

The report was a series of questions on whether participants had experienced any case of sexual violence or harassment. 

Of 148 individuals who participated, it was found that 79 out of the 148 (53%) had experienced some sort of sexual violence or harassment.

It also found that 24% of individuals who participated in the survey knew someone that has been affected by sexual violence.

One participant said: “Sexual assault and rape happens every year at this uni and someone needs to do something about it.”

“I spoke to my friends and they all said they had experienced it or knew someone who did at the Uni so it’s high time something changed.”

The report also showed that most of the incidents reported in this happened off-campus in a Stirling bar or club (29.7%).

Also, 11.5% of reported incidents took place in Stirling city centre.

However, 14.9% of incidents reported occurred in on-campus accommodation and 30.4% incidents occurred on-campus grounds. 

Figures gained by Brig showed the Student Discipline Team recorded 8 incidents of sexual misconduct occurring in university accommodation from 2014/15 to 2018/19. Whereas the Reclaim Stirling survey found that at least 22 incidents of sexual violence’s occurred in on-campus accommodation and a further 12 incidents occurred on-campus grounds.

When individuals were asked if they reported the incidents to either the university or the police 62.2% were not reported. 

The report said: “When answering why this was the case, many responses echoed similar fears of being repressed or not believed,”.

At the time when the report was collecting responses, those who answered that were undergraduate students, 65 students had experienced some form of sexual violence or harassment.

But figures obtained by Brig showed the Student Discipline Team recorded 18 allegations of sexual misconduct from 2014/15 to 2018/19.

#IsThisOkay which aims to raise awareness of gender-based violence, and the important of everyone in the community taking steps to tackle it showed participants had mixed feelings about this.

31.1% of responses to asking if they were aware of the “#IsThisOkay” campaign answered ‘No’.

Also, 50% of responses acted negatively over “#IsThisOkay” campaign, suggesting the campaign was “Unsuccessful” or “Slightly Unsuccessful”.

However, 13.6% of students answered that the campaign was “Successful” or “Slightly Successful”.

The report said: “When further questioned on whether the University of Stirling does enough to prevent sexual violence and harassment, students answered ‘more direct action is needed to tackle inappropriate behaviour’ i.e. reevaluating its key campaign #IsThisOkay.”

Additionally, the Reclaim Stirling report also found women were the group most affected by sexual violence in this case, 61 out of 96 (63.5%), then non-binary individuals with 5 out of 8 individuals who identified non-binary (62.5%), then 15 out of 44 individuals were identified as men (34.1%).

However, Reclaim Stirling report “does not seek to unnecessarily criticise or devalue the positive work which the University does in supporting students who have experienced sexual violence.” 

The report aims to contribute to the discussion on sexual and gender based violence. 

The report concluded by recommending more action on the severe lack of reporting of incidents, the university and students union to revisit the #IsThisOkay campaign and re-address the gendered approach taken in any current campaigns run by the university.

Also, support offered by the university needs to be made clearer to students from the moment they join, and more advice is needed for clubs and societies in knowing what they can do if victims come forward for support. 

Campaign Manager, Jess Reid, said: “The findings of the Reclaim Stirling report are deeply concerning, not least the lack of reporting of incidents but the clear mistrust amongst students.”

“However, I am pleased to say there is a meeting scheduled with myself and University officials to discuss this report further. I have the greatest hope that our recommendations will become action in time.”

Commenting on the report, Jill Stevenson, Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Stirling, said : “Preventing and tackling gender-based violence, and supporting anyone affected by it, remains a priority for the University and Stirling Students’ Union.”

“Guided by our joint strategy – first launched in 2017 – and working with students, staff and specialist partners, including survivors with lived experience, we continue to tackle gender-based violence through both prevention and response.”

“We have invested significantly and made important progress in this area over the past four years; however, we recognise that gender-based violence persists in society, including at universities, and we remain deeply committed to enhancing our approach.” 

“Students are currently helping us to update and improve our strategy, and their experiences, feedback and suggestions are integral to its success.”

“We welcome the survey undertaken by Reclaim Stirling and will give full and thorough consideration to its findings and recommendations. I have personally reached out to the authors of the report to discuss the feedback in greater detail and look forward to working with them as we shape our future work in this area.”

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