Improve awareness of and access to Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre

Passed by Student Council of 31 March 2016

 

What will we do?

 

1. Mandate EUSA to ensure correct and clearly signposted information about the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre (ERCC) in Freshers pack, by:

     a) Ensuring that the ERCC is on any list of service providers and a flyer for ERCC is in the information pack all Freshers receive

     b) Ensuring that the correct information is given in the Freshers Survival Guide and other lists about the services that the ERCC provides and ensuring that it            is made clear that the ERCC provides support for women and members of the trans community who have experienced sexual violence, sexual harassment          and rape

2. Mandate EUSA to ensure that physical copies of the ERCC’s survivor’s booklet are easily accessible to students on all campuses (notably the Advice Place and Counselling Service) by:

     a) Ordering copies of this booklet from the ERCC to be received before the start of Freshers Week 2016

     b) Ensuring that these booklets are available on all campuses at all times

     c) Fully promoting the availability of this resource to all students and staff, e.g. via online communication

3. Mandate the Sabbatical Officers to lobby the University to update the Dignity and Respect Policy to make explicit reference to ‘Sexual harassment’ in:

     a) Paragraph 1.2: in the following section: “... inappropriate behaviour, including any form of discrimination, harassment and bullying is handled appropriately.”

     b) Paragraph 2: in the following section: “... elimination of discrimination; harassment and victimisation...”

     c) Paragraph 5: in the following section: “Potential breaches of this policy can include, but are not limited to: • Harassment • Bullying • Discrimination • Inappropriate remarks or behaviour”

4. Mandate the Sabbatical Officers to lobby the University to introduce a Zero Tolerance Policy on sexual harassment and sexual violence, along the lines of the current EUSA Zero Tolerance Policy.

 

What is the background to this?

 

1. In October 2015, NUS published the results of a lad culture and sexism survey, showing that almost one in five students was sexually harassed during the first week of university. Despite this, more than sixty per cent of Freshers were unaware of the reporting procedures at their institution. The “national crisis” of sexual violence at universities and the lack of information and support available to survivors highlight how important it is for universities to address the “prolific” problem of sexual harassment on campuses.

2. NUS has characterised universities as “systematically flawed” with regard to reporting systems, disciplinary procedures and survivor support, and concluded that many students don’t know where to seek support from. Following Equalise and other recent campaigns and fundraising on campus around the issue of sexual assault/rape, ERCC has received increased referrals to their service of people aged 18-25 in Edinburgh in the past year. It is important that the University and EUSA commit to further raising awareness of the ERCC and of the support that it provides.

3. The ERCC, like many charities, has issues with the insecurity and short-term nature of their funding streams, and has to make up for shortfalls with unreliable and inconsistent donations, which of course is an additional obstacle to the delivery of its vital services. The organisation is largely staffed by part-time employees and volunteers and it does not have sufficient staff or financial resources to carry out outreach work with the universities that are based in Edinburgh, in order to provide the information and resources that are critical in facilitating access to its services. The University of Edinburgh and EUSA have a responsibility to students and should resolve this by approaching the ERCC and facilitating its awareness-raising by funding the printing of informative materials for distribution on campus.

4. EUSA passed the “End Rape Culture and Lad Banter on Campus” motion, which mandates it to support groups who campaign against sexual harassment and rape culture. It also passed the motion “Support Edinburgh Women's Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre” which provides precedent for collaboration and mutual support between EUSA and ERCC (formerly EWRASAC).

 

What beliefs motivate the actions you propose?

 

1. This motion believes that students and staff have a fundamental right to live, study and work free from sexual harassment and sexual violence and that EUSA and the University have a responsibility to promote this and actively work to end sexual violence on campus.

2. This motion believes that EUSA and the University have responsibility beyond taking action to combat sexual violence on campus by introducing a zero tolerance policy and including sexual harassment in the Dignity and Respect Policy. This responsibility includes facilitating easy access to resources (such as the ERCC survivor’s booklet) and support services (such as the ERCC) for all students across all campuses.

3. This motion believes that the ERCC survivor’s booklet is an invaluable resource for survivors as well as for partners, friends, family members, teachers, tutors, colleagues and so on of survivors which would provide essential information for all students and staff.

 

Submitted with 20 student signatures