Belfast Telegraph

14 claims of sexual misconduct made at Queen's University in four months

By Michael Sheils McNamee

More than a dozen acts of sexual misconduct were reported to Queen's University Belfast in a four-month period, new figures have shown.

Information released to the Belfast Telegraph following a Freedom of Information request shows the number of informal complaints - where reports were made through the university's Student Wellbeing Service - between December 2017 and March 2018.

Responding in a joint statement, Queen's University and the Queen's University Students' Union said they were "committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of its students and staff".

The university began recording informal reports of sexual misconduct in December of last year, and 14 were made in its first four months.

Nine of the reports of sexual assault were made by women and five by men.

Separate figures on incidents dealt with through the formal process between 2015 and 2018 show one reported case of violent, threatening or indecent behaviour in the 2015/2016 academic year, which resulted in an expulsion.

The student appealed against this, but was unsuccessful.

The joint statement from Queen's and its Students' Union read: "Queen's University has been working proactively with the Students' Union and external partners to deliver awareness campaigns and education programmes. In 2017/18, Bystander Intervention Training and CONSENT workshops were delivered."

It added it had developed a sexual misconduct policy and recruited a new member of staff focused on "supporting safe and healthy relationships", and had a three-year plan to further develop resources for students.

Figures from Ulster University for the same period show there was one report of sexual harassment in January 2018 on the Jordanstown campus. Staff recommended the complaint be brought forward to the PSNI.

In October 2017 a female student on the Magee campus reported an incident of sexual harassment and threatened assault.

Both of these complaints were made against fellow students.

Responding to the figures, a spokeswoman for UU said it had a "zero tolerance policy regarding sexual misconduct".

"In partnership with the Students' Union, Ulster University is committed to supporting our students' health and wellbeing with a range of initiatives designed to promote sexual health and consent, with a programme of events being held during Freshers' week and at key periods throughout the year," she said. "We work alongside the PSNI, relevant health and social care trusts and external agencies to ensure Ulster University is a safe environment conducive to the academic, social and personal development of all students and staff."

The university has a policy of passing reports of assaults on campus and halls of residence onto the PSNI.

Ulster University and its Students' Union has piloted sexual consent workshops since February, and the University recently convened a working group on reviewing its capacity on dealing with incidents of sexual misconduct.

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