Universities failing to listen to student victims of sexual abuse, says NUS

Students are posting sexual abuse allegations on social media because universities are not listening, the National Union of Students (NUS) has said.

Speaking on new BBC podcast The Next Episode, NUS women’s officer Sarah Lasoye said rape and sexual abuse victims are being failed by their universities.

She added that female students are turning to social media because they do not see a place where their experiences will be listened to, validated or dealt with effectively.

Ms Lasoye (pictured) said: “So we see students sharing information – overwhelmingly women – about abusive relationships that they’ve been in, or perpetrators who they’ve seen exhibit the same behaviours to people they know time and time again.

“I think that’s a safety mechanism for so many students.

“I think it is an issue that’s been present in university academic circles and environments for a very long time, and unfortunately I don’t think meaningful change has happened just yet.”

Ms Lasoye claimed sexual assault is the biggest issue facing students and that far more needs to be done despite universities starting to tackle it.

Amelia, 21, who alleges she was sexually assaulted by a friend who was staying at her house, said: “Unis love to say they care for students. But they’re a business. You are a number to them. You are £9,000 per year.

“I don’t believe they provide support. They didn’t care for me.”

Stephanie, 20, said she was raped on a night out.

She told the podcast: “I went to the police and my university straight away but I didn’t get support until I developed medical problems because of stress that night caused.

“Tweeting about it made me feel empowered – seeing others talking about it online gave me back my voice.”

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students, said: “All students should expect to feel and be safe throughout their time in higher education, and it is deeply concerning that many women have experienced sexual harassment and assault.

“Universities are making progress in this area, but much more needs to be done.

“Universities and colleges should do all they can to prevent sexual harassment, put in place measures so that students feel safe and supported to report it, and ensure that accusations are dealt with swiftly and effectively.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) National Union of Students.