The University has responded to a recent Guardian article which ‘incorrectly’ lists Leeds as one of the top Russell Group universities which fail to provide guidelines for its students to report allegations of sexual violence.
According to the article published on 24th May, a fifth of Russell Group universities admitted to not having specific guidelines for reporting allegations of rape, sexual assault and/or sexual harassment.
Leeds was listed alongside Manchester, Cardiff and Liverpool universities as well as King’s College London which allegedly failed to do monitor sexual violence against students.
However, following The Gryphon’s request for a statement from the University, the spokesperson clarified that specific guidelines are in fact available to both students and staff.
In a statement to the newspaper they said, ‘the Guardian article incorrectly states that the University does not have specific guidelines for students who wish to report rape, sexual assault and/or sexual harassment. In fact, our Policy on Dignity and Mutual Respect gives our students and staff clear guidelines and procedures for such cases, as well as for other types of bullying, harassment and victimisation.’
The University’s spokesperson continued to say that whilst there ‘is no blanket policy on referring such matters to police’, the University encourages and supports students and staff to do so and that provisions for support are available.
‘Together, the University and LUU provide a wide range of pastoral support to students. Students may choose to talk confidentially to their personal tutor, staff in the Student Counselling Centre, LUU’s Advice Centre or to the Security Team or the campus policeman. The Union and the University are also active in initiatives to help prevent and deter sexual harassment and assault.’
The Guardian was contacted regarding the error and released the following statement to The Gryphon, ‘As part of an FoI request, Leeds University was asked on two separate occasions for its policies and guidelines on the reporting of sexual violence, however no guidelines were provided with the response and the University said it dealt with students on a “case by case” basis’
A footnote has been added to the article to clarify the situation.
‘Following publication, the University provided its guidelines and a clarification has been added to the article to reflect this.’
Leeds University Union’s Equality & Diversity Officer, Gemma Turner has also responded to these claims by outlining the University’s Dignity and Mutual Respect policy.
Gemma, who launched the city-wide We’ve Got Your Back campaign to tackle sexual harassment and sexual assault, also expressed the Union’s commitment to working with the University to provide help and support for victims.
In a statement she said, ‘Leeds University Union has a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment, our staff are trained to deal with incidents and reporting is actively encouraged, a policy that has now been extended to many venues in the city. The University has a Dignity & Mutual Respect Policy & I would like to work with them next academic year to review this policy to ensure it covers to needs of students who may become victims of sexual assault.I urge any student who has experienced sexual harassment or assault to contact the Student Advice Centre at the Union.’
For more information on the Student Advice Centre, visit their webpage here.
Photo: Huffington Post