Ilma Ali gives us an insight on the “It Ends Now” campaign and how the SU is tackling the issue of sexual harassment on campus
Recently, the University of Essex Student Union organized an It Ends Now Campaign to covertly address the incidents that have taken place on the Colchester campus. Their intention is to crush these horrendous actions and sternly publicise the fact that the University of Essex does not tolerate any kind of verbal or sexual harassment!
Since the beginning of the year, especially during the fresher’s week, serious cases of harassment had been observed. An intruder on the university campus has been charged of an alleged sex attack on a student residing in The Meadows. The offender intruded in the student halls on the 3rdof October at about 6am, after which students have been distressed about their security on campus – especially the students residing at The Meadows. Walking at late nights and in the dark had become troublesome, not to mention that in the winter the sun sets by 5pm.
Ultimately, the university had to take a stand to eradicate such cases and to provide the students with the essential security – whom the Student Union considers family! It is very important for the university, as an institution, to address this situation. Primarily because, it is extremely hard for people to openly and confidently talk about such circumstances. And so, it has become vital for institutions to vocally assure its people that they are aware of such incidents and that they are always ready to tackle any issue, headstrong.
On the day of the protest, students gathered around square 3 with posters and stickers while Tancréde Chartier – President of the SU – gave a speech addressing the circumstances and what measures the university is taking place to eliminate them.
Precisely, security has now been further increased on campus where a larger number of security guards than before have been appointed to The Houses, Copse, Meadows and Quays. Also, more number of lights have been distributed on the streets so that it is safer for people to commute at night. A support system with SU advice and security has also been created. Not to forget, the Ask for Angela program! If you refer the line to staff members at the bar, they will instantly find a way to get you help and ensure that you are safe. They can either call you a taxi or discreetly help you out in some other way.
Many societies have signed the pledge against sexual harassment as well. Their objective is to reach out and support any of the students as well as victims. To provide them with security and comfort. And most importantly, to ensure that more and more people speak up and address the cause.
Consequently, a positive impact has already been observed on campus by the new strategies applied by the university. One of the residents at The Meadows has confirmed that the increase number of security at her residence has helped her feel safer than before. After the attack, it had gotten very scary for her to walk home from the university or to walk to the library at nights to study. But ever since the security has been patrolling the grounds, it has empowered her not to worry anymore.
Assessing all these actions employed by the University Student Union, we can truly say that they evidently are making all efforts to stand by their stance; ‘we have a zero tolerance stance towards sexual violence, harassment or hate violence of any kind at the University of Essex’. They want to certify that inappropriate sexual comments considered ‘banter’; comments on someone’s sexuality, gender identity, race, or cultural background; mocking a person’s disability; and/or touching someone without their consent cannot be accepted and will result in serious consequences. Any such incident will be reported and can lead to expulsion. It Ends Now!