Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Universities Respond: Part Eight

Southampton Solent University:

Thank you for your email.

Solent University is primarily concerned with providing a quality educational experience for students. Student safety and welfare are also of great importance to the University and therefore we do not endorse any such external events as those listed. We would like to note our disappointment at how they are marketed to young audiences including students and non-students.

The University, alongside our Students 1st information service and Solent Students’ Union, actively promotes awareness of equality and diversity, personal safety and crime prevention both on and off campus in conjunction with the local authorities.

Solent Students' Union does not undertake the activities listed other than to offer condoms in line with their safe sex policy; the thought behind this is that many students are away from home for the first time and may not have the confidence to go and buy contraception.

We hope the above information clarifies our response to your comments.

Prifysgol Cymru/University of Wales:

Thank you for your email.

The University of Wales does not in fact have a Student Union or a Campus as it is simply a degree awarding body and therefore an administrative base. Although it does currently award the degrees for many students in Wales, students study for a University of Wales award at independent Universities such as Swansea Metropolitan University or University of Wales: Trinity Saint David. The individual institutions are responsible for their own Student Unions and student Welfare.

I will pass your letter on to my colleagues in these institutions, who I am sure will contact you if they feel it is appropriate.

Oops. My bad.

King's College London:

Thank you for your enquiry.

The King’s College London Student’s Union (KCLSU) do not run any events explicitly encouraging promiscuity as mentioned in your letter, although some of our student groups as well as the health centre do give out free contraceptives, which we view as a sensible preventative measure. Were any of our student groups to do anything grossly offensive then this would be taken up by the College’s disciplinary/complaints procedures.

You might want to take a look at our equalities policies which we take very seriously and can be found on these pages.

Staff and students can also make complaints of harassment should they experience anything on campus that they find offensive.

Follow-Up Correspondence from Liverpool:

I would say across the sector Student Unions’ are largely beginning to tackle this issue internally and there is a much bigger external battle to be had with the external companies such as Carnage who I know the NUS are working hard to try and shut down. Any support would be welcome I am sure.

From Carnage's Wikipedia page:

Incidents: "In 2008 a student at the University of Bath hanged himself behind a nightclub during an event organised by Carnage UK."

"In October 2009, A Sports Technology student at Sheffield Hallam University, was photographed urinating[3] on a war memorial in Barker's Pool after drinking for several hours on a bar crawl organised by Carnage UK."

"In March 2009, a 61-year-old man was assaulted by one of its organisers after he asked about arrangements regarding to the event."

University of Kent:

Thank you again for taking the time to write that letter – it’s an incredibly important issue and I’m glad people are coming forward to discuss it.

I completely agree with all the sentiments you’ve raised – the objectification of women is a huge issue within our society and is a growing issue on our campuses around the country.

To tackle the issue of the article on the incident that occurred at our University, below is Kent Union’s statement from our website below:

We are sorry to any students attending the hypnotist event at Coopers Bar on the 23rd September 2012 who may have been offended by some elements of the show's content or style. Following the Medwire article on 25th September, we promptly conducted a full investigation and found that although no formal complaints have been made and no one walked out on the evening, there were elements of the show that we consider to have been inappropriate. We will not be booking this act again and have since reviewed our event booking procedures. Kent Union remains committed to our values and our zero tolerance to sexual harassment and discrimination policy and can only further apologise for failing on this occasion.

If there are any students who have been affected by this issue and would like to talk to someone, please contact our Vice-President (Welfare) Colum McGuire on union-welfare@kent.ac.uk who will be able to assist.

I think we clearly made a mistake here – though I do believe the media did spin this out of control and produced an inaccurate report of the incident. Nevertheless, we won’t be inviting that act back and I’m certainly taking a much harder line on our staff and the checks they do on the acts that we book.

I did say we'd be returning to the subject of the media putting a spin on things. There you go.

I guess in this case it's been worthwhile as people have sat up and paid attention to the content of Freshers Week, and I wouldn't've done all this investigation if I hadn't read that article in the first place.

The disadvantage is, of course, the risk of claims of actual harassment not being taken seriously.

Last year I introduced a zero tolerance to sexual harassment and discrimination policy, particularly focussing on our Venue nightclub, in Kent Union which I completely stand by. You can read more about that here - (I think I may have included that to you in the last email). I take a very hard line on the types of things are/are not allowed within our commercial services – you will never see advertising of our events that objectifies women or themes that trivialise women’s issues. I believe that is something we can pride ourselves on at Kent Union, as although there as so much nightclubs/bars etc out there that completely break moral barriers I’m glad that we provide a space for our students that will not result to that. I’m also currently working on a policy that will ban any ‘lads mags’ from our shop too, and we recently objected to Carnage who held a ‘Pimps & Hoes’ themed event which I thought was disgusting.

I hope that is some of some reassurance that we take the issues you’ve outlined very seriously and sadly let something fall through the net at the beginning of this year.

If there’s anything further you’d like to discuss please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

I'd like to discuss why I chose to go to flippin' Christ Church and not Kent :(

That was the last reply.

I'll be bashing out some sort of conclusion in the next few days hopefully, although I've sprinkled these entries with my own commentary throughout anyway. (Go back and read if you think you may've missed them!) But as far as copying and pasting goes,