On Tuesday 25th February, the University held its official launch of UCD Report and Support. The event, held in the Student Centre’s Fitzgerald chamber, saw a large turnout from staff across the UCD community. Speakers at the event announced 90-minute classes on preventing sexual assault, an anonymous bystander reporting tool for all members of the UCD community and the Students’ Union announced an upcoming ‘It Stops Now’ campaign.
Next year, all incoming Freshers will receive mandatory 90-minute classes on how to intervene and help prevent sexual assaults from happening on and off-campus. Opening the event, UCD Deputy President and Registrar Mark Rogers noted that “UCD has zero tolerance” to the kind of behaviours addressed with this initiative. Dr. Aideen Quilty, Assistant Professor in Gender Studies at the School of Social Policy, was heavily involved in the research that went into this new programme. “It’s a really important message for incoming students and it’s about increasing knowledge and awareness as well as prevention,” Quilty told the Irish Times. The programme will include workshops, talks and a short film. The programme has already been successfully piloted on 200 students and 100 staff will be involved in the formal rollout in September.
Professor Jason Last, UCD’s Dean of Students, formally introduced UCD’s “Report + Support” anonymous reporting tool. With a short demonstration, Last showed how any member of the UCD community can now anonymously report all forms of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment. The tool requires selecting items which best describe the incident or behaviour. It is the first of its kind that allows anonymity and for individuals to report on behalf of themselves and other people. Report + Support is available now at reportandsupport.ucd.ie The tool has been available online since early 2020.
Una Carroll, UCD Students’ Union’s Welfare Officer, also spoke about the work the Union has done over the last number of years to combat bullying and sexual harassment. Carroll has been heavily involved in the formation of these initiatives, building off the work done by last year’s Welfare Officer Melissa Plunkett. She also announced the launch of the Union’s ‘It Stops Now’ Campaign, due to begin this week.
Noeline Blackwell, a human rights lawyer and the Chief Executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, also spoke at the launch about the importance of the initiative. Beginning her speech with a story about a student who was being beaten by his PhD supervisor, but didn’t want to publicly come forward for fears of jeopardising his degree, Blackwell praised UCD and noted the importance of an anonymous platform for reporting harassment. She also jokingly congratulated the organisers for holding the event on the day after Harvey Weinstein’s verdict was released.
In February, TheJournal.ie reported that nine colleges in Ireland have signed up to an “€80,000 online system that allows students to anonymously report experiences of sexual assault.” UCD will not be a part of this scheme as an internal system has already been developed in the form of Report + Support. A Department of Education spokesperson also confirmed to TheJournal.ie that the department “provided UCD with €14,000 to fund the reporting system, alongside consent workshops and an evaluation of the college’s current consent workshops.”
Conor Capplis – Editor