[Alexandra Jungeling | Contributing Writer]
NUS research reveals one in four students suffer unwelcome sexual advances, defining unwanted sexual advances as inappropriate touching and groping.
NUS surveyed over 2,000 male and female students. With almost one third of respondents admitting that they have endured unwanted sexual comments about their body (12 per cent of men, 37 per cent of women), suggesting sexual harassment among students is not uncommon.
Two thirds of the respondents said they have seen students endure unwanted sexual comments, with just under one third bearing witness to verbal harassment based on a student’s gender.
More than half of those surveyed believe that women are more vulnerable than men, and therefore, felt it was more common for women to experience sexual harassment, unwanted sexual advances, as well as any further assault, abuse or unwanted encounters, sexual or otherwise.
Issuing cause for concern, 60 per cent of respondents said that they were not aware of any codes of conduct implemented by their university about any such harassment or sexual advances.
Sexual Harassment, in law, is defined as: unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that tends to create a hostile or offensive work environment.
Sexual Assault is defined as: sexual touching that is unwanted and offensive.
Sexual harassment and sexual assault are illegal.
If this happens to anyone, you are advised to contact the police and to, at the very least, talk to someone about it. If you think anything might be wrong or doesn’t feel right then voice your concerns.
The Advice and Support team in the University of Hertfordshire’s Students’ Union offers professional advice to anyone who may be experiencing any form of harassment, assault or abuse.
When UniVerse spoke to the team, they suggested that if anyone made any advances towards you in any way that were not wanted, did not leave you alone, or made you take part in any sexual activity that you did not given your full consent to, then you should tell someone. Advice and Support recommend making an appointment with the counselling service. They also advise you to tell your tutor, who can help, especially if the harasser is a student. In addition, they suggest telling the police, who would be able to assist in preventing such advances and even stalker-like behaviour. This is especially important if any sexual act has actually been attempted or fully committed when it was not wanted.
The biggest piece of advice the Advice and Support team gave was: talk to someone no matter what has happened. This applies in all situations where you feel like you’re on your own, or uneasy. Advice and Support urge you to make the most of such services at the University, as we do have codes in place and they can help.