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Friday, 18 May 2012

Sexual Violence Prevention Workshop Success

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to the Sexual Violence Prevention Workshop on Wednesday 16th March.   An extra special thank you to the professionals who contributed to leading the workshop and offered us their expertise including:
  • Fee Scott, Service Coordinator of Devon Rape Crisis Services
  • Beverley Weston, Community Safety Sergeant for Exeter
  • Sarah Bloor, Police Community Support Officer for Exeter University and surrounding areas
  • Marie Wall, Detective Sergeant for Sexual Offences
  • Emma Payne, Vice President Welfare and Community for University of Exeter Students’ Guild
Workshop content

The workshop began with an introduction from Fee and Beverley about sexual violence prevention and how their services fit into that.  They provided us with some video material that we might be able to use as part of a university campaign.  Having put up flip chart pages with posters and leaflets attached that had been produced by the police, attendees were able to evaluate these and reflect on what might be needed for a future campaign. We also brainstormed other strategies that might be useful in sexual violence prevention on campus and discussed how we could target these.  Finally Emma was able to use the opportunity to present the proposed branding for an upcoming Guild safety campaign and what else we might want to include as part of this campaign.

Moving forward

Following the workshop, it was decided that the correct posters and leaflets targeted at the right people could be a very effective method of drawing attention to the issue. We are working on getting permission to use some posters (some of which are already up on campus).  We also looked at less conventional modes of publicity such as LED torches and beer mats, and screening campaign videos before films shown to students.  The importance of highlighting sexual offences other than rape was also brought up and it was agreed that non-rape sexual assaults and sexual harassment had been neglected.  They were also identified as issues that affected a much greater number of students, many of whom may not even be aware of the illegality of such behaviour.  The new Guild safety campaign will be an umbrella to a section which will include sexual violence prevention and the police and rape crisis services are now working with the Guild to help coordinate future campaigns.

A questionnaire will be going out to all students shortly so we can ensure maximum consultation.  If you would like to receive the minutes from the workshop and/or any of the materials used, please email me, Alexa Sage, at gender-equality@hotmail.co.uk.




Sunday, 13 May 2012

Reclaim the Night, Exeter 2012

‘Reclaim the Night’ or ‘Take back the Night’ started in 1977 in West Germany and is now held in countries throughout the world. Usually in the form of a march, women come out onto the streets at night to protest against the sexual violence that so many women suffer or fear, particularly in relation to street safety at night. Not only does the event help raise awareness, but it can help give women a great sense of empowerment and sisterhood. Men have also been strong supporters of marches and vigils across the globe. Following the success of ‘Reclaim the Night’ Exeter 2011, we want to make sure this fantastic event continues and grows even larger in support!

The 2012 ‘Reclaim the Night’ is (currently unconfirmed by police) due to be taking place on Sunday 10th June 2012.  The event will start with speakers on the Cathedral Green followed by a mixed female and male march up to the top of Sidwell Street then back to the Cathedral Green for a candlelit vigil.  The event will be open to all.  On Saturday 9th June we are hoping to be hosting a glass painting workshop for young people so they can make lanterns for the vigil the following day.

Labour Students have kindly offered to take the lead on organising the event although it is open for all to join in with and is being disassociated from any political label.  The group also includes members of the Gender Equality Society, Liberal Democrat Society, Socialist Students as well as any other groups and individuals who wish to join in organising the event.  Weekly meetings take place to help get the event organised and are open to all.  They take place at 3pm every Wednesday in the Long Lounge, Devonshire House.  Please come along if you are interested.  Alternatively you can request to be added to the secret Facebook group by emailing gender-equality@hotmail.co.uk.

Streetlight campaign

Last year, Exeter University Students' Guild ran a campaign to highlight the council's plans to turn off streetlights between midnight and 4am in order to save money. The council put their plans on hold in face of strong opposition. However the matter has now returned and Devon County Council have decided to switch to a 'part night lighting' system in Exeter. This means that between the hours of 0030 and 0530 they will switch off lighting in most residential areas in a bid to save carbon and cash. This link has all the more detailed info you need on the matter : http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/transportroads/roads/road_maintenance/street_lighting/partnightlighting.htm

The issues facing us with the proposed system are that Exeter has a high level of student numbers moving across the city, mostly on foot, between the proposed hours so they would be more vulnerable. Given that women are more likely to be victims of sexual crimes and men more likely to be victims of violent, non-sexual crimes, reduced lighting at night increases potential risks and perception of risks for both women and women. Darker streets could also lead to an increase in property burglary.  Given that the cost of implementing this scheme to the council will take six years to make back , it seems like this is just a quick win for Devon County Council budget cuts.  Exmouth and Newton Abbot already have this scheme in place.

Exeter Students' Guild intend to campaign again on the issue are seeking ideas and thoughts from students on how best to campaign and to hear from groups who will mostly be affected by this move. If you have anything you feel you could contribute to the campaign, please email Emma Payne, Community and Welfare Officer for University of Exeter Students' Guild at guildwelfare@exeter.ac.uk.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Athena SWAN Charter for Women in Science: Bronze University status for Exeter University

Last month Exeter University was successful in its application for Bronze University Status in accreditation with the Athena SWAN Charter.  The charter is concerned with the underrepresentation of women in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics and works to help eliminate the imbalance. 

The achievement of the Bronze status recognises that ,
the university overall has a solid foundation for eliminating gender bias and developing an inclusive culture that values all staff. This includes: (i) an assessment of where the university is in quantitative (staff and student data) and qualitative (policies, practices, systems and arrangements) terms, which has identified both challenges and opportunities; (ii) a plan that builds on the assessment, the activities that are already in place and what has been learnt from these; and (iii) an organisation (the self assessment team) to carry proposed  actions forward.”

The application for Bronze status was made by a team of academic and professional staff from the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences and the College of Life and Environmental Sciences.  In order to work towards attaining the next level of Silver status, the Athena SWAN working group has been set up, with STEM departments and Equality and Diversity Groups working together.  The group has just been expanded to include the Students’ Guild Gender Equality Representative so if you have any concerns or questions with regards to this issue, please contact me at: gender-equality@hotmail.co.uk.

For more information in the Athena SWAN Charter, please refer to their website: www.athenaswan.org.uk

For more information on Exeter University’s Athena SWAN status, please refer here: http://emps.exeter.ac.uk/about/athena-swan/