Sexual assault on campus is a hot topic right now. Until quite recently universities were not doing enough for victims of sexual abuse.
Thankfully though, some campuses are acting fast. Kelly Marriot, the Student Hub Operations Manager at the University of Stirling talks about the support the university offers for victims and how to access it.
Kelly is a Sexual Violence and Misconduct Liaison Officer (SVMLO) and each SVMLO is trained to help victims of sexual assault.
Here she talks in detail about the process of how to report an incident and what support is available.
After finding a suitable time the officer and victim meet in a private room to discuss the options.
There are many different ways to approach the situation and the university have different plans in place to suit each individual. Sometimes all the student needs is a conversation to process what has happened. Kelly emphasises that they are there to help the victim take their case as far as they want, and there is no pressure to do anything at all.
The service is completely confidential but as it is a university institute there is a duty of care, and they have to take appropriate action to protect victims if the perpetrator is named.
There are several ways to get in contact with the SVMLOs, it can be as easy as just walking into the office or filling out a form.
Often, after a sexual assault, a student’s mental health is affected, which impacts all areas of their life. As well as emotional support and direction to legal support, the SVMLOs also offer academic support, which can range from deferred exams to extensions. The SVMLOs have the power to request these changes without disclosing the reason why, which can be a relief to many students in this situation.
There have been some concerns that sexual violence on university campuses has spiked due to ‘lad culture’ or the nature of sports societies but Kelly thinks that you cannot just blame one group and that it is a wider societal issue.
But it needs to be tackled from within, so they have taken a new approach to prevention. Paired with the #IsThisOk campaign and bystander intervention training, a lot is happening on the University of Stirling campus over the next year.
If a student wants to find out more information about any of these services they can look online without fear.
As Channel 4 reported an 82% increase in sexual violence on campuses in the past four years, it is clearer than ever that the work that is happening at Stirling is a step forward in the right direction.
Jill Stevenson, Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, said:
“The University is committed to ensuring that students or staff who may be affected by any form of gender-based or sexual violence, at University or elsewhere in society, are able to access support.
“The University has relationships with local agencies including Forth Valley Rape Crisis and Stirling & District Women’s Aid, which helps to ensure that those affected by sexual violence can quickly access expert support.
“In addition, a new Report and Support online tool will be launched in 2019-20, which will allow students to report any incidents of gender-based or sexual violence including (if they choose) anonymously.”
Further information about the SVMLOs and how to get help can be found here.