By University of Bristol Student’s Union
For those students that have been involved in the Union’s democratic structures recently it will come as no surprise that sexual violence and harassment has become a hot topic across campus. With the Reclaim the Night march in November 2015, the input we had in the University’s Consent Workshops at the beginning of the year and the work we are doing around supporting student survivors, it is clear that this is something that Bristol students feel passionately about. Well here’s our update and plans for the future!
The Reclaim the Night march was a huge success for a second year running. Bristol SU have been securely fixed as a key player in the community’s fight against sexual violence and street harassment. The thought process into how to make the march accessible to everyone that wanted to support the cause, whilst not undermining those that are most affected by sexual violence and harassment, paid off! 87% of those surveyed on the night said the event was excellent! The support from our student volunteers was a stand out as they dodged traffic to ensure the safety of the protestors. Outstanding effort all!
The consent workshops we helped organise were a big statement to Universities all across the country. Every first year in halls had the opportunity to learn about sexual consent – something that often isn’t taught in schools and that most people will have never been taught before. Throughout the planning process it became apparent to all involved how useful it was learning about something that is so essential yet assumed that people have an adequate concept of. We’ll be looking to continue the effort next year and build on them to get higher attendance!
If you’re wondering what’s next on the plan for Bristol SU on this important topic then have a look at our action plan for the Bristol Zero Tolerance initiative which looks to promote a city free from gender based violence, abuse, harassment and exploitation. Bristol SU have re-signed up to the initiative and submitted an action plan based on ideas and discussions from Women’s forum. Alongside this we have contributed to a joint statement from the University of the West of England, the University of Bristol, the Students’ Union at UWE and ourselves which states clearly that we will be: taking a zero tolerance stance to sexual violence and harassment, promoting a safe environment (both on campus, out in the city at night and in the local community), campaigning against sexual violence, looking at how we support victims, and finally how we train staff.
If students want to get involved with anything discussed above or coming up in our action plan then either talk to a Bristol Student’s Union Officer, contribute to discussions at Women’s forum, or submit policy for debate at Student Council.