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Update on Gender Safety - February 2022

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. This is currently being refreshed for 2022/23 entry.
  • New and innovative face to face Bystander Intervention training will be rolling out later this 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 university partners this year, and we were awarded this contract via a competitive process. Representatives from our Students Guild and Students Union took part in training during Term 1 and training for societies is taking place this week.
  • 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.
  • 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. The next call for projects will open shortly and will be promoted via Student News.
  • Launched the Erase the Grey communications campaign (licensed from Glasgow Caledonian University) to raise awareness of a wide range of issues including consent, harassment, abuse and stalking; challenge prevailing myths, and encourage people to change attitudes and behaviours.
  • A Male Allies training pilot session for staff took place in January 2022. The programme is being evaluated with a view to expanding the training.

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 are a partner in the Home Office Safety of Women at Night (SWAN) project working as a consortium with our local partners which is:
    • 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 working with us to support and inform our training and prevention work.
  • Following calls from our student community to develop a student-led night safety scheme, our Students’ Guild is currently working with our students and partner agencies to look at existing provision in the City (through Street Pastors and others) to identify any gaps, and consider the options available. The safeguarding of both volunteers and any users of such a scheme are a key consideration, and this is something we are currently carefully exploring.

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 four 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