Evidence to Action: Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment in Higher Education Institutions

The Higher Education Authority’s Centre of Excellence for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion hosted a one-day conference Evidence to Action: Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment in Higher Education Institutions on 8th December 2022. This conference showcased the latest evidence and good practice ongoing across the sector, shared learning and discussed future priorities and approaches in the context of the findings of recent surveys and the launch of the Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment in Higher Education Institutions Implementation Plan, 2022-2024.

The conference was well attended by staff and student representatives from higher education institutions and their representative bodies, in addition to representatives from relevant government agencies and departments, and experts and advocates in the field of addressing sexual violence and harassment.

A detailed account of the conference, capturing the key discussion points and learnings can be found in the conference report.

Opening address

The conference opened with a video from the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD.

Active*Consent performance

The Active*Consent team of the University of Galway presented an adapted version of the play, The Kinds of Sex You Might Have at College, which has toured Higher Education Institutions across the country. The play, directed by Dr. Charlotte McIvor, is the result of a long-term collaboration involving academic staff from Drama and Theatre Studies and Psychology.

National Surveys of Staff and Student Experiences of Sexual Violence and Harassment in Irish HEIs - findings and response

Dr. Pádraig MacNeela, lead of the Active*Consent programme at the University of Galway and member of the HEA Advisory Group on Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment (ESVH) in HEIs, presented some of the key findings that emerged from the national surveys, and the response of the Advisory Group to the emerging recommendations.

UniSAFE survey on gender-based violence in academia

Dr. Fredrik Bondestam, Director of the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research at the University of Gothenburg, provided a virtual input on the findings of the UniSAFE survey.

Panel discussion 1: importance of data and evidence

This panel considered the importance of data and evidence, and how the HE sector can use it to strengthen the work to end sexual violence and harassment in higher education.

Panel members:

  • Marcellina Fogarty, Strategic Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, University College Dublin
  • Dr. Siobán O’Brien Green, Equality Officer, Trinity College Dublin
  • Dr Pádraig MacNeela, School of Psychology and Active*Consent programme lead, University of Galway
  • Claire McGing, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Manager, IADT
  • Dr Clíona Saidléar, Executive Director, Rape Crisis Network Ireland

Moving Parts animations

Moving Parts is a student led animation project which draws attention to sexual consent, bystander intervention, and image-based sexual abuse from the perspective of third-level students. It is an active collaboration between students and staff at IADT, NUIG Active* Consent, and UCC Bystander Intervention.

Speak Out anonymous reporting tool

Speak Out is an online, anonymous reporting tool for staff and students, which was launched in October 2021. Rachel Skelly, Speak Out project lead, gave an update on the pilot of the tool and the next steps.

Bystander Intervention programme

Professor Louise Crowley of the School of Law, UCC, provided an input on the UCC Bystander Intervention programme, which aims to highlight the danger of normalising and accepting abusive behaviour and through education, inform and empower programme participants to better understand their capacity to intervene as pro-social bystanders.

Panel discussion 2: targeted interventions

This panel focused on targeted interventions, in particular education, training and awareness-raising initiatives in higher education institutions – including topics such as what is needed, what is effective, and how to reach and support all members of the college community.

Panel members:

  • Sam Blanckensee, Equality Officer, Maynooth University
  • Michelle Caulfield, Education and Training Manager, Galway Rape Crisis Centre
  • Aoife Grimes, ESHTE (Ending Sexual Harassment in Third Level Education) Project Co-Ordinator, National Women’s Council of Ireland
  • Siobhán Kangataran, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Munster Technological University
  • Dr Caroline Kelleher, School of Population Health, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland

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