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Student organisation, The Last Taboo, urges the University to act now

The Last Taboo have sent an open letter to the vice-chancellor, Charlie Jeffery, asking for his pledge to support them in their campaign

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Image Credit: The Last Taboo

In October 2020, Nouse reported on the various problems surrounding the revised Regulation 7 which better defines the student disciplinary procedure for those who wish to report sexual harassment, but fails to address the lack of support and awareness for victims of sexual assualt on campus. That article can be found here.

The Last Taboo, a campaign focused on tackling the problems surrounding sexual assault at the University, aim to tackle concerns around reporting incidents at the University. They have already received pledges of support from various student leaders including several YUSU officers, as well as a pledge on behalf of Nouse itself from Editor, Matthew King.

The open letter has three aims. Firstly, to lobby the university to make campus a safer place by creating safe spaces on campus for those who have reported sexual misconduct. Training for staff is also a key part of making campus a safer space as it will improve pastoral care and safeguarding.

Secondly, the open letter aims to educate students and remove stigma on sexual assault and harassment. This should be done by making students aware of the scale of the issue on campus and by highlighting the real experiences and impacts of those who have suffered from sexual assault and harassment.

The open letter’s third aim is to increase awareness for support services and reporting processes at the University of York. A recent Google poll conducted by FemSoc revealed that despite claims that support was “widely shared” across the University, 52 per cent of students who answered the survey were not sure or did not know where to get support should they need it. Consequently, the open letter highlights that advertising is needed so students know what to do after an assault and who to report it to, including the different ways to report assault to the police.

Alongside the survey conducted by FemSoc, the Last Taboo mentions in the open letter that they intend to conduct their own survey on how students feel about Regulation 7.

They urge the vice-chancellor to “take this opportunity to listen to your students and collaborate with those who want to help. Students are becoming increasingly frustrated and we are no longer going to sit idle.”

Nouse spoke to the co-founders of the Last Taboo, Kelly Balmer and Imogen Horrocks, about the significance of the open letter and they highlighted the impact of the vice-chancellor’s personal support by stating that:

“It is important as it would show that the vice-chancellor has heard the concerns of so many students surrounding the issues of sexual assault and harassment within the university itself. By pledging publicly, it shows a willingness to lead by example by addressing students' concerns by taking a proactive approach in finding a solution, subsequently setting a precedent that other universities can follow. It would show that, as vice-chancellor, Charlie wants to stand united with students against sexual assault and harassment within our institution, making it a safer place.”

“To have his public support would give us the opportunity to open up wider discussions between students and the parts of the university that are responsible for handling sexual assault and harassment, that would bring about positive change. It would give us the opportunity to work with Charlie directly to create a safer environment for students and staff at the University of York.”

If you wish to sign the open letter and show your support, follow this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NE4AVcLoVHHWsYlY2iKyzJtVAFdbbmocUnEt1rlrMVg/edit

A link to the campaign's Instagram account can be found here too: https://www.instagram.com/the.last.taboo/?igshid=1cfgn5aju3xn9&fbclid=IwAR2nvfdv3vLQ-MqG2m1JEzELH4nqotSldpi2y3CKoBFzTBdDyqo8oWQA1fw

If you have been affected by the issues within this article, or have concerns about sexual violence visit reportandsupport.york.ac.uk or call Rape Crisis on: 0808 802 9999.

Links to support:
Report and support tool: https://reportandsupport.york.ac.uk/
Employee support from the University:
https:// www.york.ac.uk/admin/hr/browse/health-and-well-being/employee-assistance
Student support from the University:
https://www.york.ac.uk/students/health/advice/sexual-violence/
Visit the Rape Crisis website at: www.Rapecrisis.org.uk
Or call Rape Crisis on: 0808 802 9999

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