Oxford University launches sexual violence support service

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On Monday 1st October Oxford University opened a new Sexual Harassment and Violence Support service, offering professional and confidential support and advice for all students of the university. The launch forms a core part of the Oxford Against Sexual Violence campaign, run jointly by the University and Oxford University Student Union, which seeks to build on existing consent and bystander intervention workshops to prevent, and help victims of, sexual harassment and violence.

Professor Martin Williams, Oxford University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education, has described the service as “another step forward” in tackling the issue of sexual harassment and violence at Oxford University. Ellie Macdonald, Vice-President for Welfare and Equal Opportunities at Oxford SU, has said that “it is fantastic to see the University take a clear zero-tolerance approach to sexual violence” and hopes that the support service “will enable more students to have confidence in the University when an incident occurs”.

The Support service offers free confidential support and advice from trained specialist advisors to any student who has been affected by sexual harassment or violence, as well as support in helping students explore their options, which may include formal reporting. It will also give staff training and advice on responding to sexual harassment and violence, and will work in association with Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre to ensure its work is informed and effective.

The Service and campaign follow recommendations from the University’s working group report into sexual harassment and violence at the University, chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, which highlighted the role of drinking societies and crew dates in facilitating sexual violence between students in Oxford. It also drew attention to the under-reporting of sexually abusive conduct between professors and students, which the new support service is not intended to handle directly.

Current students looking to speak to an advisor through the Sexual Harassment and Violence Support service should email [email protected] For more information, see ox.ac.uk/supportservice.