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Sexual Harassment

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Sexual harassment is a very serious issue and is not tolerated at Goldsmiths, University of London.

It is sadly pervasive across society – and like many other organisations we have not been immune from the issue.

We have confirmed that there has been inappropriate behaviour at the university in the past. Any allegations of sexual harassment are thoroughly investigated with action taken against those found responsible.

Talking about specific cases is complex, and could lead to the identification of witnesses and those involved who have expressly requested anonymity. We would also not want to deter others from speaking up.

While we will not talk about specific cases, we want to reassure our students and staff that we do take action and think collectively about how we can do better in the future.

Here, we set out a 10-point plan to address this issue

This is intended as a starting point for our work in this area. Our intention is for this plan to develop as we work collaboratively to ensure we have a framework that meets the needs and requirements of everyone in the Goldsmiths community.

New post to review and improve the framework around reporting and addressing sexual harassment

Goldsmiths is to create a new post to undertake an institutional review of and improve the framework around reporting sexual harassment. This role will be  responsible for developing and delivering a response to sexual harassment at Goldsmiths. The post will examine and evaluate past and current procedures to create an improved framework for reporting and addressing sexual harassment at Goldsmiths.

Definition of sexual harassment

A definition of sexual harassment for use at Goldsmiths, University of London has been updated following consultation with and input by stakeholders across the university. It gives us a shared platform from which to address sexual harassment.

The definition is as follows

Sexual harassment is unwanted and unwelcome words, conduct, or behaviour of a sexual nature that has the purpose or effect of creating an embarrassing, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the recipient. It is a misuse of personal or institutional power and a form of less favourable treatment based on a person’s sex.

Harassment is behaviour which is uninvited and unwelcomed by the recipient (even if there has been some previous relationship). Whether or not the harasser intended to be offensive is irrelevant. The limit of acceptable behaviour is up to the recipient to decide.

Unwelcome is the critical word. Unwelcome does not mean "involuntary". A victim may consent or agree to certain conduct and actively participate in it even though it is offensive and objectionable.

A single incident or persistent behaviour can amount to harassment. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or study performance.

Sexual harassment is often linked with misuse of power or position and is rarely about sexual desire. Harassment can be a way of asserting superiority. For example, a woman may threaten a man’s perception of their status in the workplace, and as a result the man may exert control by such an abuse of power.

Sexual Harassment can include catcalling, following, making unnecessary and unwanted physical contact, giving unwelcome personal gifts, wolf-whistling, leering, derogatory comments, unwelcome comments about a person’s body or clothing, asking questions about a person’s sex life, engaging in unwelcome sexual propositions, invitations and flirtation, making somebody feel uncomfortable through displaying or sharing sexual material. Sexual harassment does not necessarily occur face to face and can be in the form of emails, visual images (such as sexually explicit pictures on walls in a shared environment), social media, telephone, text messages etc.

Establishing an Advisory Board

An Advisory Board is to be established to help guide our work in this area, with members drawn from across the Goldsmiths community. We will work with stakeholders and colleagues to create an environment where cases of sexual harassment can be dealt with in a clear way. We want a framework in place to make Goldsmiths a leader on this issue in both our sector and in society – and for us to have a process which meets the needs and requirements of everyone at our institution. 

Training and awareness for students

Goldsmiths Students’ Union is working with the university to help develop a programme of sexual harassment awareness for students. A session on lad culture held during Welcome Week was led by GSU’s part-time LGBTQ+ Officer and Sports Officer as a way to introduce students to the issue and how it can be addressed on campus. Students contributed to how a campaign as important as this needs to keep intersectionality at its forefront – tackling sexual harassment in all its multifaceted forms – and were introduced to the GSU’s ongoing campaign in this area. 

Training and awareness for staff

A programme of raising awareness, briefings, specific communications and training relating to sexual harassment is being developed for Goldsmiths staff by our HR department. This will be included in induction for all new staff.

Reporting sexual harassment – students

Students wishing to make a complaint about sexual harassment should refer to the Student Complaints process. This process will be one of the focus points in our review of sexual harassment procedures. 

In addition to the Students Complaints process there is additional help available on campus. 

Experiencing harassment is difficult and you may have many, often conflicting feelings about the events that have led you to feel humiliated, offended or degraded or about the fact that you are in an environment that violates your dignity.

You can feel this way if another person intended to make this happen or not; what matters is how you feel.

Sexual harassment is unlawful and can be reported to the police, your employer or your university who can take you through formal procedures.

You may want to talk to someone about doing this or you may just want to someone to talk to.

At Goldsmiths, we have a number of staff who are able to take time to listen, advise and guide you through your next steps whatever you decide you want them to be.

These staff can be found in the Wellbeing Team, the Chaplaincy or the Students’ Union.

Wellbeing Team/Counselling via:

They may signpost you to external help agencies depending on your circumstances and the kind of support they feel is appropriate and relevant to your specific needs.

Each person and each case will be different and we want to make sure that you have the opportunity to discuss your experience and explore the best way forward for you.

Reporting sexual harassment – staff

Staff wishing to make a complaint about sexual harassment should refer to the Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment policy. 

In addition to the Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment policy there is additional help available on campus.

Experiencing harassment is difficult and you may have many, often conflicting feelings about the events that have led you to feel humiliated, offended or degraded or about the fact that you are in an environment that violates your dignity.

You can feel this way if another person intended to make this happen or not; what matters is how you feel.

Sexual harassment is unlawful and can be reported to the police, your employer or your university who can take you through formal procedures.

You may want to talk to someone about doing this or you may just want to someone to talk to.

At Goldsmiths, we have a number of staff who are able to take time to listen, advise and guide you through your next steps whatever you decide you want them to be.

These staff are based in HR, the Chaplaincy or are Trade Union representatives.

They may signpost you to external help agencies depending on your circumstances and the kind of support they feel is appropriate and relevant to your specific needs. Each person and each case will be different and we want to make sure that you have the opportunity to discuss your experience and explore the best way forward for you.

Leading the HE response

Through their research and collaborations staff at Goldsmiths are working with others in the sector including Universities UK to help shape the HE response to sexual harassment. 

Policies and guidance

Student guidance on reporting sexual harassment can be found on the Student Complaints pages of the website.

Staff guidance on bullying and harassment has been updated to include the new definition of sexual harassment: Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Policy for Staff (PDF Download)

Working with our communities and partners

We want Goldsmiths to provide leadership both locally, national and internationally to help address the issue of sexual harassment. We want our work to engage with and influence all levels of society in setting best practice in this area. To this end we will share our approach to addressing sexual harassment with partner organisations including The Pulse gym, contractors who visit and work on our campus and our neighbours in surrounding business and organisations. 

 

(Published on 13th October 2016)