How can e-learning help universities address sexual harassment on campus?
29th May 2019
Sexual assaults and harassment are major problems for universities.
Not only are sexual assaults common, the universities themselves frequently fail to support students adequately – leading many students to suffer in silence.
A recent survey by The Student Room and Revolt Sexual Assault found that 42% of the 4,500 respondents had experienced sexual harassment at university.
The survey also found that students were generally dissatisfied with the support offered by their university. Hannah Price, founder of Revolt Sexual Assault, said:
“The sad reality is the same themes emerge; students are suffering in silence and blaming themselves. They are having an extremely poor student experience and in too many cases being deprived of their education because of sexual violence and the lack of support available.”
Universities must change perceptions
Universities don’t just have a problem with the support offered to students.
There’s also a lack of understanding around issues like consent, harassment and sexual assault.
As Mhairi Underwood, head of community at The Student Room commented:
“It’s worrying to think that there is still not a widely acknowledged truth about what is and what isn’t okay [regarding consent, behaviour and sexual assault].”
Busting myths around sexual harassment
One key challenge for universities is changing perceptions around what constitutes sexual assault, how crimes can be reported and why sexual assaults occur.
This includes changing notions of blame, victimhood and perpetrators so that students and faculty have a more realistic and balanced understanding of sexual assault.
Correcting some of the common myths around sexual assault may encourage students to speak up, and can help everyone respond appropriately to disclosures of sexual violence.
Helping Brunel University respond appropriately to disclosures of sexual violence
Clearly, one of the biggest challenges for universities is in responding adequately when a student reports an incident of sexual harassment or assault. Universities have a duty of care, and students need support to understand their options and to feel heard during a harrowing time.
Responding to reports of sexual harassment is never easy. Listening to people disclose traumatic experiences is difficult, and many of us naturally want to avoid hearing about painful or frightening experiences.
University representatives have an obligation to manage this natural reticence, and give students clear-eyed support that prioritises their own wishes and needs.
Students who have been the victim of sexual violence need patience, understanding and someone who is prepared to listen.
Aimed at shifting the culture and encouraging a better response to disclosures of sexual violence, e-learning was seen as an effective way to reach a large audience, as well as a discreet way to discuss sensitive issues.
How can we help your organisation?
If your university or organisation needs to deliver training on sexual harassment or another topic, Marshall E-Learning can help. Our courses can either be chosen as standard packages (off-the-shelf) or we can tailor the content, design and structure to suit the needs of your learners.