Sexual assault on campus: what are Birmingham universities doing?

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request was sent to major universities in Birmingham seeking the number of sexual assaults committed on campus in the last 5 years.

In the FOI response, University of Birmingham said 10 cases were filed by students in the last 5 academic years. The University confirmed that these cases were investigated internally and that the complainants were advised to contact the police.

The response also said that “in cases where the accused has been found guilty, they were debarred from specific University buildings.”

Birmingham City University said they had no cases filed in the academic years 2013-2017. However, they said they could not confirm the number of cases for 2017/18. Newman University also said no incidents of sexual assaults were reported to the university during the same time period.

Meanwhile, Aston University said they had 5 cases of sexual assault filed in the academic year 2015/2016. 2 were made by members of staff, and 3 on university leasehold property (student accommodation).

Watch Ivona Hadzhiyska, VP student development for BCU Student Union explain how students can report sexual assaults:

 

According to Karin Qureshi, Counselling and Wellbeing Manager for BCU, the police will only get involved if the victim wishes to. She also said, “this would however, vary if you found someone unconscious in their room with obvious signs of attack – you would call for emergency services of the police and an ambulance. Watch the full interview with Karin Qureshi here.

What is the National Union of Students doing?

The NUS released a survey in April 2018 saying that more than 4 out of 10 respondents had experienced “at least one instance of sexualised behaviour from staff” and had also previously held summits for crackling down on lad culture on campuses.

But amidst all this, the NUS itself is facing a controversy. As recently as July 2018, NUS officer Jess Bradley was suspended after allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct from her Manchester office. Read the full story here:

Meanwhile, Siobhan Blair, Independent Sexual Violence Advocate at the Rape and sexual violence project said about students reporting cases of sexual assault to the university:

“Imagine reporting an incident to the university, as the perpetrator is a student on your course, and then going back to university and seeing that he or she has not been removed from the class?  Imagine how dis-heartening that would be, or how it could come across as belittling or minimising the victims experience. The victim may also feel they are not believed.”

Tracey Pickering, the police liaison officer for BCU and Aston said that Birmingham students are reporting sexual assaults more often, but, “if the police have not been made aware of an incident, we will not get involved. The police can only act upon the wishes of the victim.”

 

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