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UCL Astrophysics Group

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Group Support and Policies

The Astrophysics Group is committed to providing an inclusive, safe and respectful work environment, and to actively supporting all its group members.

This page summarizes the resources available to staff, postdocs and students, and the different policies in place regarding harassment and bullying.

Reaching out

If you are experiencing any difficulties, you are strongly encouraged to discuss them. There are multiple routes to support including staff specifically trained to listen in confidence. Details are given on the welfare wiki page.

All staff members, including postdocs, have a responsibility under the Dignity at Work guidelines to challenge unacceptable behaviours (whether on or off UCL premises) and support the targets of such behaviour.

In addition to these options for support, there are many routes to reporting any form of bullying or harassment. Group members can choose whichever route they feel most comfortable with.

  • Students can approach Ruth Siddall who is UCL's student mediator and independent of any department. Everything that you tell Ruth is in strict confidence and she will not take any further action unless you ask her to. 
  • Students can seek advice from the Student Union for advice and support. 
  • Staff members can seek advice from one of the Dignity at Work Advisors.
  • All group members can also contact the Departmental Equal Opportunities Liaison Officer, Julie Smith.
  • Anyone can make a formal complaint directly to the Head of Department, Prof Jon Butterworth, to the UCL Registrar (students) or to the UCL Director of Human Resources (staff)
  • Anyone can arrange to talk to UCL's community police officer. The first point of contact for anyone wishing to arrange a meeting is Ruth Siddall.

Should anyone decide to place a formal complaint, procedures will take place as prescribed by UCL Human Resources if the complaint is made against a staff member (including postdocs), or by the Academic Manual (in the case of complaints against students). Questions can be addressed to the UCL Registrar or to the UCL director of human resources.

Responsibilities

Creating a positive and inclusive work environment is a responsibility shared by all, and therefore all group members should educate themselves. Please do not ask or expect the survivors of harassment to do it for you. There is a large body of professional literature on harassment in the workplace, with this review recommended as a possible starting point. There are also numerous informative blogs tackling sexism in science, for example Women in Astronomy

See also the group's actions taken to prevent sexual harassment.

Conferences

Group members are encouraged to request that conferences they are contributing to as invited speakers or SOC members put in place a code of conduct that spells out clear guidelines and the consequences for not following them (examples from Bash Symposium and STFC Summer School).