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Full stop. Developing an institution-wide strategy for addressing sexual harassment

23 November 2017

UCL Main Quad

The last few weeks have seen a deluge of media reports on sexual harassment. While the articles have focused on Westminster and the film and television industries, the #metoo social media campaign hints at how widespread this problem is within all parts our of society.

There is considerable interest and, quite rightly, anger on this topic. As Chair of UCL’s Preventing Sexual Misconduct Strategy Group, I wanted to use this as an opportunity to update the UCL community on the work we are doing at UCL to prevent and respond to sexual harassment.

In June, our Provost chaired a conference titled: ‘Full stop. Developing an institution-wide strategy for addressing sexual harassment’. This was a very visible commitment from the top of the organisation to try to remove any barriers to cultural change at UCL. In response to the many issues raised at this conference, the Preventing Sexual Misconduct Strategy Group has been established, chaired by myself and Professor Nigel Titchener-Hooker, Dean of UCL Engineering (as Deputy Chair). We held our second meeting two weeks ago and by the end of the year we plan to publish our road-map for 2018. Our priorities are to examine and review existing UCL policy, practice, procedures and structures on receiving, investigating and resolving complaints of sexual misconduct. We will recommend improvements on all of the above and drive through as many positive changes as possible by engaging with relevant committees and key stakeholders at UCL.

As a second phase of the project we will review, better align and make recommendations on programmes for preventing sexual misconduct and for increasing support for those who have experienced it at UCL. I want this to be an institutional conversation and as such I invite anybody that would like to contribute to this work, either through consultation or sharing ideas, to contact equalities@ucl.ac.uk to join a new mailing list we will set up. The Acting Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion has very recently returned from a trip to leading US universities, and has learnt a great deal of good practice from our US colleagues. The Strategy Group will be considering an ambitious set of recommendations resulting from this trip.

Our Students’ Union continues to do great work with its Zero Tolerance Campaign and related workshops, and we hope to pilot a new online portal for reporting harassment, including anonymously, very soon.

I would urge any member of the UCL community affected by these issues to speak out. There are a number of ways in which you can access advice or support:

For Students

For Staff

Professor Becky Francis

Director, UCL Institute of Education