UCD Signs up to Campaign Tackling Sexual Harassment in Irish Colleges

UCD is partnering with the National Women’s Council of Ireland and several other universities for a campaign looking to tackle sexual harassment and assault on college campuses.

UCD was the first major university to come on board, and now UCC, DCU and the University of Limerick have signed up to the ‘It Stops Now’ campaign. The UCD Students’ Union and the national USI (Union of Students in Ireland) are also partnering the NWCI and the universities. The campaign, ‘It Stops Now’, will look to reform how incidents of harassment are reported to colleges, and promote initiatives like bystander intervention training for students and consent workshops.

Jennifer McCarthy Flynn of the National Women’s Council of Ireland is leading the campaign. Speaking at the launch last week Ms McCarthy Flynn said that colleges and institutions have now recognised the significance of addressing sexual harassment in Irish colleges.

Roisin O’Mara, the current student union welfare officer in UCD said numerous students have come to her office for support this year after incidents of sexual harassment and assault. ’I have had students come to me this year with sexual harassment claims or concerns, for assault that have happened on campus or off campus. There have been quite a few reports for both male and female students throughout the year, and these students for whatever reason don’t want to pursue the issue with the college’. The new Dean of Students Jason Last is believed to have pushed for UCD as an institution partnering and committing to the campaign.

One initiative the National Women’s Council campaign is promoting among colleges is by-stander intervention training for students. Piloted in UCC by Dr Louise Crowley, the scheme focuses on encouraging students to call out low level instances like cat calling or pull up derogatory remarks. In the Cork university the programme was introduced as a mandatory academic module for first year law students this year. The National Women’s Council campaign is looking to work with other college’s to introduce similar campaigns or initiatives across Ireland. The objective is to create a zero tolerance culture on campuses for sexual harassment or sexist comments, and sexual assault.

Maynooth University and NUI Galway are the only two universities who have not committed to sign up to the ‘It Stops Now’ campaign.

Maynooth University and NUI Galway are the only two universities who have not committed to sign up to the ‘It Stops Now’ campaign. Several Institutes of Technology who have joined the project include Dundalk IT and IADT. UCD and UCDU will both have a seat on the project’s national advisory committee.

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Jack Power   Editor

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