Equality practitioner Vicki Baars to lead review into sexual harassment at Goldsmiths

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An equality, diversity and inclusion practitioner with eight years’ experience in Higher Education is to lead the review into sexual harassment, misconduct and gender violence at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Vicki Baars has been appointed Strategy and Review Manager – Sexual Harassment and is due to start at Goldsmiths in April.

And she is prepared to have “difficult conversations” across campus to help Goldsmiths achieve its ambitions of being sector-leading in this area.

Vicki said: “The creation of this role is a bold move not only for Goldsmith but also in light of the fact that higher education has the capacity to disseminate behaviour change through its graduates to whatever they pursuit after they leave.

“I am most looking forward to working collaboratively with staff and students throughout the college.

“I am ready to have difficult conversations and recognise that people will be at various points in their understanding of the necessity of this work. My role is about facilitating positive change and I have high hopes for what we can achieve in the coming year.” 

The appointment comes after Goldsmiths successfully bid for HEFCE funding to safeguard students, winning a share of a £2.45million Catalyst Fund.

Over the last decade Vicki has worked on a number of high-profile projects with the focus of her work around gender, gender identity and sexuality.

She is joining Goldsmiths from Queen Mary University London where she is Diversity and Inclusion Officer, and has previously worked at University College London and the National Union of Students.

Vicki has worked on and in close proximity to a number of the projects that led to Universities UK creating a taskforce on sexual harassment. She was also a member of NUS’s national lad culture steering group.

In her post at UCL she was the project manger for the zero tolerance to sexual harassment campaign, implementing a number of university and students’ union policy changes and trained 2,500 students on bystander intervention skills which they could use when they witness sexual harassment.

The appointment is a key part of Goldsmiths’ 10-point plan to address the issue of sexual harassment at the university. Over the course of the next year Vicki will lead a review of the university’s policies to ensure they are fit for purpose in supporting targets of sexual harassment and survivors of sexual violence.

Vicki said: “I look forward to building on the groundwork by the Centre for Feminist Research and the Students’ Union in developing sector-leading interventions to end sexual violence, harassment and misconduct.

“I plan to use my experience of working on anti-sexual harassment campaigns at the National Union of Students and University College London Union as well as taking inspiration from other HEI’s in the UK and abroad.

“Sexual violence, harassment and misconduct are endemic throughout society and universities are not exempt from these abuses of power.

“We are at a turning point in higher education where these issues are more widely known and better understood. We have to be innovative and caring in our response to reports and in the prevention methods we use.”

The Strategy and Review Manager – Sexual Harassment is based in Strategic Projects. Among other duties the post will be a member of the Sexual Harassment Advisory Board which has been established as part of a 10-point plan to address sexual harassment at Goldsmiths.

Professor Elisabeth Hill, Deputy Warden at Goldsmiths and chair of the board, said: “We’re delighted that Vicki is joining us to lead this most important work. We want her to ask demanding questions of our culture and practices and look forward to implementing the answers she proposes to help establish Goldsmiths as a sector-leader in this area."