Petition initiated to give sexual assault survivors better support in university

Image credit: Change.org

A petition to give sexual assault survivors better support in university, by calling on UK universities to include sexual assault as a mitigating circumstance in their policies, has garnered 1,829 signatures at the time of writing, out of the 2,500 required. The petition, started by CUSU Women's Officer Aubrey Sebatindira, will also call for Universities UK (UUK) and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) to advise universities to do so.

The petition cites the statistic that 300 claims were made against staff in 6 years, with little change to reflect rising levels of sexual assault cases. Survivors share that “debilitating after-effects are exacerbated by the added pressure of exams", and furthermore,“it would be so helpful to know, going into exams, that this would be duly taken into account.”

Neglecting these factors is a failure to recognise and address the experiences that sexual assault victims face - a discrepancy between that and forms of illness which are recognised by universities. Sebatindira writes, "If a student falls ill during assessments, they can apply for re-assessment options. Why isn’t that the case for a student who has been sexually assaulted?"

If the changes put forth are implemented, the hope is that receiving the help that survivors need will not be a rarity, or chance occurrence depending on who one turns to to seek help. It will instead be a standard which universities need to meet, which will hopefully, in turn, encourage students to come forward. Sebatindira puts it this way, "They should expect sufficient support, not simply hope for it."

The petition can be found here.

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