EXETER COLLEGE JCR has voted in favour of updating their harassment policy and encouraging College authorities to adopt the changes, in line with the recent updates made to University wide harassment policy.
The new sexual harassment policy adopted by the University last year following a successful campaign by OUSU and ‘It Happens Here’, is designed to clarify the process of complaints.
However, this change in university policy does not affect individual colleges, leading to criticisms from some students that harassment policies in college can still have more complicated guidelines, making them less clear, secure and supportive.
OUSU’s Vice-President for Women, Anna Bradshaw, urged students in December to contact college representatives and encourage them to update internal harassment policy.
The motion at Exeter was proposed by third year English student Ella Richards, who has been involved in the campaign to encourage colleges to change their policies, and seconded by JCR welfare respresentative Beatrice Natzler.
Natzler told Cherwell, “At the JCR meeting we discussed the benefits of the new harassment policy. One benefit is that procedures are laid out much more clearly than in the old policy.
“The new policy also allows someone making a complaint to skip steps, such as mediation, that they might not feel comfortable with.”
Exeter JCR President Tutku Bektas also commented, “We recognise the sheer number of harassment incidents happening around the University every year and to this end, we want to make sure that there is a more certain and sound framework which would allow the college to deal with such sensitive issues in a more efficient and professional way.”
The JCR President also emphasised the importance of the new policies and bringing colleges on board, telling Cherwell, “The Exeter JCR believes that this is a crucial topic and we will be taking the necessary steps to campaign for it.”
Alice Vacani, who has been working on the campaign at Hertford, commented, “I’m really proud of the work undertaken by Ella and other members of Exeter JCR to push this through.”
Exeter’s decision is part of a wider drive by the Harassment Policy Working group to encourage students throughout the University to put forward updated and clear college harassment policies.
The Harassment Policy working group has been holding equipping training, which has attracted students from a number of colleges who want to change their college policies, whilst the University’s Equalities and Diversity unit has been providing information on how the policies work and how they can be incorporated by colleges.
After her successful lobbying to have the university policy updated, Bradshaw commented, “I have been excited to hear this week that a number of common rooms have already begun to work with their colleges to update college harassment policies.
“Good harassment policies are absolutely vital to protecting and supporting students, particularly women students.”