CASE threatens to release sexual harassment data withheld by University
"Although the statistics may be looked upon unfavourably by University Administration, without acknowledging that there is a problem it cannot be uprooted."
By: Matthew Keracher
Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) is a campaign that strives to change the current conversation around sexual assault within the University of Aberdeen campus and the surrounding area.
Student Group CASE (Consent Awareness and Sexual Education) have threatened to release "raw data" returned from a survey concerning sexual assault and harrasment, which they say is being withheld by the University of Aberdeen. The survey saw "over 1500" responses, from both staff and students.
The survey was fielded in February and included questions about people’s experiences of sexual violence and harassment on campus. In the press release, a spokesperson for CASE and their campaign Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) writes, "CASE [...] has access to the raw data, but it is not within our remit to publish a report with the results. [...] As members of the student body, we are frustrated and disappointed by the inaction of the University regarding this issue. [...] If the university refuses to release the SASA statistics by the end of the year, we are prepared to do it ourselves."
"As members of the student body, we are frustrated and disappointed by the inaction of the University regarding this issue. [...] If the University refuses to release the SASA statistics by the end of the year, we are prepared to do it ourselves."
The survey came after a Statement of Commitment by the University and AUSA to address, and work against, sexual violence and harassment on campus. According to CASE, "Over 1500 people responded to the survey, which should be considered a great success in terms of reach and would have been a perfect opportunity to address the situation on campus. However, at the time of writing, no results have been released by the University."The Welfare Officer, in cooperation with CASE, has been trying to put pressure on the university to release the results and has been assured multiple times that the results will be out soon. Despite this, no results have been released to the public. The Welfare Officer has also been invited onto a working group set up by the university to action the results of the survey, but has yet to know when that is or what the scope of the committee would be."
"It’s disappointing to see such slow progress on such an important issue."
In a statement to the Gaudie, Harry Chalkin, AUSA Welfare Officer, said "It’s disappointing to see such slow progress on such an important issue.
"As a community we need to have codified and robust systems to report and end assault, violence and unsolicited behaviour within, to and from our community. I hope the attitude of the institution towards this issue changes and progress is made."
CASE's statement continues, "The executive committee of CASE want to work with the University to end on-campus sexual violence and harassment, but without an official report we are missing vital information that would help us know what areas to target and how to best pursue this mission. Although the statistics may be looked upon unfavourably by university administration, without acknowledging that there is a problem it cannot be uprooted.
Silencing the statistics means a detrimental effect not just to the physical safety of students, but also to their mental well-being and overall effect on their very sense of self. The University of Aberdeen is already lagging behind its neighbour RGU which has an online reporting system for Gender Based Violence (GBV) and other universities which have full-time sexual harassment counsellors on their campuses, such as Glasgow and Strathclyde Partnership.
As such, we urge the University to publicly release the results of the sexual harassment survey. CASE is working hard to combat sexual violence and help students feel safe, however the impact could be far greater if the university acknowledged the evidential magnitude of the problem. If the university refuses to release the SASA statistics by the end of the year, we are prepared to do it ourselves."
"We are striving to eliminate and prevent gender-based violence by working to implement the Equally Safe in Higher Education toolkit."
In response to The Gaudie's enquiry, a University spokesperson said: “The University of Aberdeen has a zero-tolerance approach towards all forms of sexual violence and harassment.
"We are striving to eliminate and prevent gender-based violence by working to implement the Equally Safe in Higher Education toolkit.
"A working group to help tackle these issues has been established and we are delighted that student representatives from AUSA will be supporting the work of the group. The findings of the survey have already been presented to that working group and will be discussed further at its next meeting.”