We publish a series of blog posts on different issues relating to sexual misconduct within higher education. We hope these provide information and links to research and resources that are helpful to those working in the sector.
Sexual misconduct and online teaching environments (01 Sep 2020)
Sexual misconduct by staff towards students happens in physical environments and it happens online. When teaching will now happen predominately and privately in the intimate spaces of our homes in the coming term, how do we as educators conduct teaching and learning for students in ways that engage a professional relationship?
A Letter of Resignation (24 August 2020)
A friend of mine is leaving academia. I’ve been affected by her decision in a way I didn’t expect: I am relieved… It will soon be five years since we walked into unfamiliar offices and made complaints of sexual misconduct against a senior male academic. The rest, they say, is history.
The Office for Students’ (OfS) consultation document on regulating sexual misconduct and violence in universities was published in January and responses are due by 27 March. 1752 Group member Tiffany Page has already commented in the Guardian on the consultation document. Here’s a longer take on some of the thoughts that will go into our consultation response. We’ll share the full response as soon as it’s finished, but we wanted to share thoughts in progress in order to open up a dialogue with others who are also writing responses.
Staff sexual misconduct, the ‘duty of care’, and safeguarding: what should higher education institutions be doing? (12 Jan 2020)
Addressing staff-student sexual misconduct is not only about protecting and supporting particular students who may disclose or report this, but also about protecting other students and staff who have contact with the same member of staff. Evidence from the UK and the US (Bull and Rye, 2018; Cantalupo and Kidder, 2017) suggests that many perpetrators of staff sexual misconduct are serial (repeat) harassers targeting multiple students or staff members, either simultaneously or in subsequent years, and therefore the safeguarding risk to other students and staff needs to be addressed.
Catalysts and barriers to reporting: Part II (19 Nov 2019)
In Part two we outline barriers to reporting and explore how institutions might mitigate or address these barriers. While the post focuses on students who are reporting, many of these points will also apply to supporting reporting from staff as well.
Yesterday marked the release of a new report on research integrity, produced by the Commons science and technology committee, which calls for a national committee on the subject of research misconduct. The 1752 Group believes that in terms of central oversight, we should be explicitly including sexual misconduct and all forms of bullying and harassment within the definition of research misconduct.
Solutions for Sexual Misconduct in Higher Education (11 Nov 2017)
The coverage of sexual harassment has shown no sign of slowing and, while it’s tempting to take a break and gather ourselves, the momentum behind reform provides a significant opportunity for long-lasting change. This post provides recommendations for anyone involved in a sexual misconduct case, for those working in higher education who want guidance for implementing processes in their own institutions, and for those who want to help boost the momentum for higher education sector reform going forward. This is intended to be an overview to instigate further action and we will be writing blog posts focusing on how we are working towards the individual areas in coming weeks.
The recent Australian Human Rights Commission’s survey of sexual harassment in Australian universities canvassed over 30,000 students across 39 universities and included 1849 qualitative individual submissions. But when it comes to reporting on the role of university staff as perpetrators of sexual misconduct, the report is light on detail. In its 264 pages, no mention is made of the overall prevalence of staff sexual misconduct, nor are there any recommendations relating to it.
Imperial College and cultural change (5 Jan 2017)
In 2015, Imperial College commissioned Dr Alison Phipps from the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Sussex to undertake a research project on gender equality at the college. We examine a public report on institutional culture to ask how this can shed light on how sexual misconduct of academic staff is condoned and sustained within universities.
Who knows about staff-to-student sexual harassment? (21 Sept 2016)
One of the recurring issues around staff-to-student sexual harassment and misconduct is that the very public knowledge of this problem gets lost within the institutional layers of the university. In this post we discuss who knows within an institution, and why it’s so hard to report this knowledge and for action to be taken.
Should sexual and romantic relationships between staff and students be prohibited? (Yes) (21 Feb 2020)
UCL has recently implemented a new policy prohibiting sexual and romantic relationships between staff and students where there is a direct teaching relationship. To our knowledge, they are one of only a few higher education institutions in the UK to do this, the others being Roehampton University, University of Greenwich, and the Royal Scottish Conservatoire. By contrast, in the US there has been a move in recent years towards prohibiting all relationships between faculty (academic staff) and undergraduate students, and between faculty and postgraduate students where there is a teaching relationship, and so this move by UCL could be seen as the first in a shift towards the UK following US practice in this area, and reflecting the heightened awareness of gendered power imbalances that the #MeToo movement is engendering.
Catalysts and barriers to reporting: Part I (19 Nov 2019)
Consistent findings around sexual and domestic abuse in society as well as within HEIs demonstrate that most people do not report experiences to their institution or the police. To help with addressing issues with reporting, this two-part blog post takes the catalysts to reporting (Part One) and the barriers to reporting (Part Two) that were identified by participants in Silencing Students (Bull and Rye, 2018) and discusses how institutions can address these.
“What happens at conference, stays at conference” (23 May 2019)
A recent light-hearted request on Twitter, “Ok, what’s the most terrible behaviour you have witnessed at an academic conference?”, received an unexpected reaction. What happened on conference refused to stay on conference, as women described the sexual misconduct they had suffered and endured at conferences. For them, their biggest worry wasn’t whether the coffee break was condensed, it was whether they would be followed back to their hotel room. But how do we solve the issue of sexual misconduct at conferences?
A “significant sexual misconduct problem” (7 Feb 2018)
Cambridge University has revealed they received 173 reports of sexual misconduct in the first nine months of a new “anonymous reporting” system. This report raises several questions: What is “anonymous reporting”? Isn’t anonymous reporting a little… unfair? That’s a big number! Does Cambridge have a problem? Why do people feel safer disclosing sexual misconduct anonymously?
Hollywood and Academia: Is the problem the same? (15 Oct 2017)
The last week has seen an ever-increasing snowball of allegations against the top Hollywood figure Harvey Weinstein. It has been easy to see the parallels with our own work in addressing staff sexual misconduct in higher education when reading the evolving coverage and we have spoken to BBC Radio 4 (The World Tonight) and been interviewed for television on the BBC World Service and BBC News on that topic this week. So why is the Weinstein case so similar to what we see in academia?
Dr Anna Bull spoke at the UK Women’s Classic Committee AGM and in this follows up piece outlines some practical steps that can be taken by staff and students to begin addressing staff sexual misconduct in higher education institutions.
Precarity and sexual misconduct (18 Nov 2016)
A recent article in the Guardian highlights the stories of the 53% of academics in the UK who exist on short-term, hourly-paid or part-time contracts. While sexual harassment and forms of sexual misconduct were not discussed in the Guardian’s coverage, this post argues that there needs to be discussions of its connection to precarious labour.