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Update on Gender Safety November 2021

Working with our Students: An innovative partnership

The Provost and Registrar have been leading a Gender Safety Group since May 2021 looking at student safety and particularly the safety of women at night within our communities.

We have been working in close collaboration with our students across all campuses, our Guild and Students' Union and our community partners, alongside some of our in house academic experts - who have provided advice on everything from communication strategies to Bystander Intervention.

We have been looking at the issue of sexual violence and harassment on our campuses and in the local communities holistically – covering both physical safety and training around consent, healthy relationships and Bystander Intervention.  We were urged by our community to look at both reactive and proactive training - what could good look like? 

We have put in place so far:

  • Consent training for all students, delivered via an online module.
  • New and innovative face to face Bystander Intervention training will be rolling out from next calendar year that will tackle both sexual and racial harassment. We have had guidance from leading academics on the content and delivery of this.
  • We are working with Tender (an arts-based charity) to roll out arts-based, trauma-informed training around healthy relationships, initially focusing on our societies and student leaders across all campuses and then filtering out to the wider community.  Tender is an organisation that was awarded financing from Clifford Chase to work with 5 x university partners this year, and we were awarded this contract via a competitive process.
  • Short animated videos around Consent and Bystander are being designed for use on social media.
  • Male Allyship, Victim Blaming Avoidance training and Self Defence taster sessions have also been arranged via our SU and Guild.

Funding Student-Led work

We have launched a £25k fund for student-led projects to support gender safety initiatives, complementing our continuing anti-racism fund. These funds are managed by our Education Incubator - ensuring students are provided with a network of peer support to help them embed their projects.

Working with our Night-Time Economy partners

  • We have also been regularly engaging with our partners in the Night-Time Economy, sharing concerns and feedback from our community.
  • We have just been awarded a Home Office Safety of Women at Night (SWAN) bid, of £72,000 working as a consortium with our local partners (Bid application provided separately) but funding aims to:
    • Providing training for women & girls, Night Time Economy (NTE) staff & professionals on key issues faced by women in the NTE
    • Developing and launching a Safety Charter to empower everyone to challenge unacceptable behaviours
    • Strengthen and re-energise Best Bar None to enable it to play a key long-term role in delivering a safe NTE
  • We have been working with Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services and now have a member of their team based part-time on our Streatham Campus working with us to support and inform our training and prevention work.
  • We are working with local organisations within the community, such as Street Pastors, to develop a student-led volunteering scheme within the night-time economy.

A Summit of Partners

  • On a more operational level, we are working on a Summit with key partners including - D&C police, DCC/ECC, RD&E colleagues, Community-led organisations, Exeter College and Night Time Economy venues and organisations. This will focus on key outcomes around:
    • Safety at night within the club/bar environment and surroundings
    • Travel and transport
    • Our Harm Minimisation approach to drugs and alcohol and how this intersects with partners within the nighttime economy
    • Cross-training and how we could maximise awareness and knowledge within our community (Bystander Intervention, male allies etc)

Physical Safety

  • We have made passive personal alarms and drink spiking testing kits available across all campuses, including at bars and halls of residences.
  • We have introduced a Night Bus in Exeter (in collaboration with Stagecoach), running three nights a week. Ticket prices are subsidised.
  • We have launched a Campus Safety guide, flagging our SafeZone app and other initiatives.
  • We have actively taken feedback from students around lighting on Campus and added in additional lighting and signage.
  • We have worked with Community Partners on the Safer Streets proposal which was funded to improve lighting and CCTV coverage in key areas in Exeter
  • These additional physical safety measures join existing mechanisms in place including:
    • Estate Patrol provides a “Guardian Angel” service to any member of the University who needs to walk alone after dark from any location on campus to any of the car parks. This involves using the CCTV system to monitor their route.
    • ‘Ask for Angela’ which allows anyone in a vulnerable or just uncomfortable situation that needs help to ask "for Angela" at the bar or to a member of staff who will then ensure they are taken to a safe place already allocated in the venue. From there a parent, friend or taxi can be called and if necessary the other person is asked to leave the venue. 

Links with our embedded EDI Vision

  • The University is a member of the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse, a leading National charity in this field. We have worked with the EIDA on the development of guidance and associated training for internal stakeholders and line managers. The guidance provided is considered part of Health and Safety at Work. A range of services have been put into place to help colleagues in situations of domestic abuse, including a Domestic Abuse Support Assessment and Guidance for Managers.
  • We recognise the importance of intersectionality when supporting staff and students with issues of sexual harassment and violence. We are exploring additional interventions via our wellbeing team around trauma-informed support, recognising the experiences of our minority groups.
  • The University has also put in place a new ‘Wellbeing, Inclusion and Culture’ Board, designed to embed inclusion, and pull together intersectional issues. This Gender Safety Group reports directly into this Board, ensuring it is in an optimal position to effect cultural change.