By Hannah Cox
Last year, students questioned the effectiveness in using the Code of Conduct and Human Resources Policy to tackle issues of sexual violence. Alumni have even taken to social media to report their dissatisfaction with ARU policies.
That is not to say that Anglia Ruskin does not support its students in reporting and managing issues of sexual misconduct. One victim has stated how grateful she is for the support Anglia Ruskin has given her and the effective handling of her situation.
David Walmsley, who chairs the sexual respect meetings as the deputy director of student services, says it is important to understand the role of the university when reporting:
“It’s not always about solving and closure. It’s also about pro-active management and support with frustrating outcomes.”
There are issues with conviction across the system in regards to sexual misconduct. It is important that students know what will and won’t happen as well as the pros and cons. Anglia Ruskin has eight Sexual Violence Liason Officers (SVLOs). Anybody can contact the SVLOs at email@example.com. They are able to provide emotional and practical support. The counselling and wellbeing service are also on hand to provide support. Reports are made via the complaints procedure and as of January, ARU has installed Alice Evans as complaints manager, a new post which demonstrates Anglia Ruskin’s commitment to improving the effectiveness of current policies and procedures.
Colleen Moore, one of Anglia Ruskin’s SVLOs, highlighted the issues of current policies. There are no set outcomes, and therefore the actions to be taken are individualistic and not determined by policy. The complaints procedure is also not tailored to the reporting of sexual violence. The UK universities have been tasked with addressing hate crime, harassment and sexual misconduct and the complaints procedure has yet to take account of how different traumas need to be dealt with in different ways.
Another issue ARU is tackling, is the lack of specialist training within the complaints process. The formal complaints procedure has different stages and involves referral to a Deputy Dean or Deputy Director within the university to investigate. They receive training and guidance, but not on specialist circumstances such as sexual violence. David Walmsley assures that ARU aims to fill these gaps and that alternatives are available for the present, such as Intersol Global, who can act as external investigators. So far, they have not been required by ARU.
As of March 2019, a new tool should become available through the ARU website in order to make the complaints procedure more accessible to students as well as providing anonymous reporting. Improvements are constantly being made behind the scenes, especially in terms of support for victims. The challenge of the process can keep trauma on the surface; timeframes can be difficult, and the student can dip in and out of engagement with the process. ARU commits to ongoing support and the safety of its students.
Anglia Ruskin is also taking steps to educate students about sexual misconduct. As of September, ARU plans to work with the Consent Collective, who will provide brief guest lectures for welcome week and engage with students.
Student perception is important, and without being familiar to the process beforehand, it can be a daunting process to face. SVLOs are on hand to support students, as well as the counselling service. Anglia Ruskin does not want to put empty gestures in place, they are looking for effective ways of improving issues, especially in regards to sexual violence.
The Ruskin Journal will host updates to procedures, issues and improvements to the handling of sexual violence at ARU. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contribute to a future piece.
Sexual Violence at ARU: https://web.anglia.ac.uk/anet/student_services/sexual_violence/support_in_reporting.phtml
Out of Hours Support: https://web.anglia.ac.uk/anet/student_services/outofhours.phtml